Mar 032013

Two stills from Exquisite Corpse (2012): ‘Man with Beard’ prompt interpreted by Salise Hughes and Clyde Petersen.

Holy shamoly! We’ve received a rash of donations to our fundraising campaign in the last few hours, including those from Megan Gleason, Aileen Imperial, Kelly Froh, Naoki Mitsuse and Brandi Chase! We’re now sooo close to the half way point, at $740! That’s two projector stands and a half!

In the meantime, I thought I’d let animator Salise Hughes explain a little more about the concept of an ‘exquisite corpse’ collective film, to give you a better idea of what this Little Shop of Horrors animated film will look like:

“For those of you who don’t know, Exquisite Corpse is an invention of the early Surrealists, a parlor game created to generate randomly composed drawings with sometimes beautiful and always strange results. It’s also a form of collaboration, usually between three people, where all contributions are complete drawings in themselves, but the finished work something entirely different and unexpected. In the original game a piece of paper is folded in thirds with the bottom two sections folded under. The first artist makes a drawing on the upper portion usually with the drawing touching the bottom edge. The drawing is then turned under so only the middle section is visible, usually with a millimeter of the previous drawing showing giving the second artist the option of continuing that thread. The second artist makes their drawing and does the same, folding their drawing under so only the bottom section is now visible for the third artist. The paper is then unfolded exposing the finish drawing.

“This is the original structure of the game. The concept has been applied to other genres including film, but there’s no one way of translating the rules. I came up with a formula for film a few years ago and this is how it goes. A series of images are created that will start and end each film, and written down on slips of paper. For example one slip might say start with a barking dog, and end with a girl on a bike. Another might say start with a girl on a bike, and end with a man with a hat. There are slips for each filmmaker and they create a loop, all films will be connected front and back with an interpretation of the same image by another film. Outside of that each filmmaker can do what ever they want. The slips are drawn at random from a hat. To keep from being influenced the filmmakers are not allowed to tell the others what slip they pulled. The finished films are then matched to their corresponding images- the film that ends with the barking dog is placed next to the film that starts with the barking dog, and since that film ends with a girl on a bike the next film begins with a girl on a bike, etc…

This is how SEAT’s first exquisite corpse film was made. This year we complicated the formula by interpreting a film. We chose a film rooted in popular culture that happens to be in public domain- The 1960 version of The Little Shop of Horrors. For this project we divided the minutes of the original film by the number of filmmakers involved. Each filmmaker received the in and out points of their section by pulling slips from a hat. The rules from before apply, but in addition they must condense their section to ninety seconds, and try to convey the story without sound. This is a true experiment in exquisite corpse development and with the talented animators involved it can only be a spectacle of amazement.”

The photo at the top shows the ‘join’ between two sections in our first collective film. The image prompt for these two animators was ‘man with a beard’. The frame on the left is the final frame of Salise Hughes’ section, and the frame on the right is the first frame of Clyde Petersen’s section.

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