Sunday, 27 March 2011

Ladislaw Starewicz | August 8th , 1882 – February 26, 1965
Fig 1 | Ladislaw Starewicz
Ladislaw Starewicz was one of the earlier pioneers of stop animation, his work was specifically aimed at children and mainly used insects and other animals as the main protagonist. His most prolific work ‘The Mascot’ was evident of this and showed Starewicz dual obsessions with photography and entomology.   However it’s noticeable that in today’s climate these films are now deemed ‘strange’ and much more intense than what is produced for children today giving them a horror value.  This was down to multiple reason some of which, where the fact ‘Starewicz’s puppet bestiary is located in the brutality and unsentimentality of the fairytale with a claustrophobic sense of death and decay’ (Wells, 2000; 101). Nevertheless, showing the alternative genre which can be achieved through the practice of puppetry and in a sub-category plasticine modelling. For the animation world this was a significant turn off from the animation timeline which led to use of another material in field and no doubt influenced Aardman Animations who produce classic  such as ‘Chicken Run’ and the notorious ‘Wallace and Gromit’.
Fig 2 | The Mascot - Glasses screenshot

In a more specific look at ‘The Mascot’, it’s easy to see how Starewicz work influenced future production. The synopsis is quite simplistic as a toy puppy attempt to get back to his owner after being taken to a shop for sale. As well as bring home an orange which his owner wanted. Yet through his journey he encounters multiple problems facing demonic creature alongside other toys which fled capture before ending at the shop with the puppy. In essence, the story is remarkable in correlation with synopsis of the 1995 storyline of ‘Toy Story’ and obviously shows the original ideology of toy’s coming to life whilst not in view of humans.  Most noticeable though is the dark ominous tones set from start as the toys seem disfigure or rough as almost manipulated in turn ‘there is little that is lovable, let alone sugary, Starewicz’s work at its best...Violence, of an alarmingly graphic sort, crops up a lot in his films, never by the pretense that mangled bodies will simply (as in Tom & Jerry) resuscitate unharmed in the next frame’ (Phillip Kemp). Still the most chilling is the live action which is mixed with the stop motion as well as countless expression, which the models make. While taking the endless pains to create the illusion of realism (some of the puppets...had as many as 150 different heads to convey changes of expression)’ (Phillip Kemp). In these term its noticeable the dedication that Starewicz had for creating his work and making portraying emotions of character  - which today in CGI terminology has still not been completely achieved.
Fig 3 | The Defeated Demon

In conclusion, it points out that Starewicz was the evolution of other prolific entities and was an entrepreneur of the ideology of achieving realism and a belief of realism within a project. As most artists dealt with the likes of faking 3 dimensions such as Walt Disney and Lotte Reiniger. As with Starewicz approach with his use of plasticine was one of the first to break that chain and have knock out the issue of 3 dimensions thanks to the use of plasticine. Moreover this gave him other elements to attained to and showed more complication to deal with such as multiple design for  single characters or having a theoretical knowledge of how far to move or position a model after each frame. This point out a dedication to the artistry and moreover an ability to achieve wonderful effects that still today are favourable in some aspect due to advantages they give. In effect the influence echoes in the animation timeline as previously state infamous Aardman Animation, as well as CGI technicians whom still in today’s climate have to contend with the problem of the ‘Uncanny Valley’

Fig 2 Starewicz, Ladislaw (1933) ‘The Mascot - Glasses’ Screenshot
[Film Still] The Mascot

Fig 3  Starewicz, Ladislaw (1933) ‘The Defeated Demon’ Screenshot
[Film Still] The Mascot
Kemp, Phillip (1990) Starewicz, Ladislaw, Starewicz, Ladislaw. The Mascot
Parikka, Jussi (2010) Insect Media: An Archaeology Of Animals and Technology, University of Minnesota Press, 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290 Minneapolis : U of Minnesota Press
Schneider,Eric (2000) Entomology and Animation: A Portrait Of An Early Master Ladislaw Starewicz,
Starewicz, Ladislaw
 Wells, Paul (2000) The Horror Genre: From Beelzebub to Blair Witch,4th Floor, 26 Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EZ: Wallflower

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