Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Norman McLaren | 11th April 1914 – 27th January 1987
Fig 1 | Norman McLaren Busy Working
Norman McLaren is known as a prolific pioneer of animation due to his work in multiple fields of the practice.  The main exploration of his work looked at animation, visual music, abstract film, pixilation and graphic sound. His work was considered ‘an abundance of childish playfulness, artistic subtlety, psychological insight and human concern’ (Nelmes, 2003; 225). Moreover, his works follows a very abstract look which most of the time felt tranquil and relaxing to his audience. His films such as ‘Lines Vertical’ and ‘Pas De Deux’ where evidence of this.  As his pieces had a onsomble of music and motion which, gave him his name was the ‘the poet of animation’ (Kranser, 2004; 23) .

His ‘Lines Vertical’ piece was part of his ‘Art In Motion’ project and was literally a piece that focused on vertical lines moving sideward as it was in sync with music playing.  As the lines continue to move from side to side they multiple and produce complex imagery which messes with human eyesight as well as in some case fake 3 dimensions.  In turn, allowing us to see how animation can be used in trickery and illusion.
Fig 2 | Lines Vertical Screenshot

However the ‘Pas De Deux’ piece from his ‘Dance’ felt more complex as it used really film with and overlay of scene to create a ghost effect. The film focuses on a woman dancing and leaving a ghost trail as prance across screen which continues when a male figure enters and duets with the woman. It notable that the shorts focuses on shape as the ghost echoes create complex shapes in the trail of the animation and put in to perspective the beauty of movement. Judy Mitoma states this as she says Norman McLaren...had just opened up a whole new world of perspective of the representation of movement on screen.’ (Mitoma, 2003; 169). In turn the story illustrates the potential of his technique of Optical Printing’.
Fig 3 | Pas De Deux Screenshot

It noticeable therefore that McLaren was fascinated with what isn’t seen. In turn his animation always had a reflection on music or dance and how they look visible in artistic and abstract way. This can be argued isn’t the strongest work in the industry as ‘Many critics have questioned the harshness of his colours and the too often repeated simplicity of his forms. They feel he lacks certain sophistication and is altogether too much of a primitive for them...Other critics,...have commented on a certain lack of passion and fire in McLaren output’(Rosenthal;1972, 267). This point is questionable as his work can be described as natural beauty looking at how to visualise the motion of music in ‘Lines Vertical’ and in ‘Pas De Deux’ display the beauty of dance in motion and the shapes that are created show a fluid motion and elegance in the way a dancer moves as well as implying the passion of lovers in dance. 

Fig 1 Norman Mclaren:

Fig 2 Mclaren,Norman (1960) ‘Verticle Lines’ Screenshot
[Film Still] Verticle Lines

Fig 3  Reiniger,Lotte (1968) ‘Pas De Deux’ Screenshot
[Film Still] 'Pas De Deux’

Kransner, Jon S. (2004) Motion Graphic Design & Fine Art Animation, Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK: Gulf Professional Publishing
Mitoma,Judy (2003) Envisioning Dance On Film And Video, Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE: Routledge
Nelmes, Jill (2004) An Introdution To Film, Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE: Routledge
Rosenthal,Alan (1972)The New Documentary In Action a casebook in film making. University of California Press, Ltd, London, England: University of California Press

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