CIRCUIT Selects: Animation
One of the great things about CIRCUIT's new website is that we're able to curate short playlists of works from our catalogue.
Here, we invited three CIRCUIT contributors—Tessa Laird, Simon Palenski, and Becky Hemus—to pick an animated work from CIRCUIT's collection and write a little bit about it.
One Minute Enlightenment by Jill Kennedy
Selection and words by Tessa Laird
Jill Kennedy is a stop-motion magician. Here, she animates a seemingly innocuous series of images from 1970s lifestyle magazines so that healthful stretches and eye exercises become an inter-species orgy. A young white woman rolls her neck from side to side, and although cropped at the shoulders, she is clearly naked. We are not the only ones entranced by this spectacle—a Siamese cat with its tongue stuck out (the height of feline indignity) is so catatonic—it’s magazine eyes have been cut out to reveal live action cat eyes! Uncannily, a real cat lurks behind this paper cat, surveying the naked exercise routine. Jacques Derrida wrote a long essay about how weird he felt when his cat saw him naked, stepping out of the shower (“The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)” 2002). He went down a Judeo-Christian vortex of shame, whereas Carolee Schneemann had gleeful sex with her human partner in front of her cat Kitch, filming the whole thing as if from Kitch’s perspective (Fuses, 1965).
Kennedy invites a young blond man, also naked, to join the fun, along with a massive pouting Persian puss. Other cats appear, including images of cats in books, in a kind of kitty porn or feline mis-en-abyme that recalls the cattier moments of Camille Henrot’s Grosse Fatigue (2013). Both short films celebrate cats with different coloured eyes, and both reach a cosmic, orgasmic crescendo, Henrot’s powered by a spoken word incantation, and Kennedy’s by the written word flashed faster and faster, instructing the viewer to “feel it”, “sense it”, “breathe it”. The woman rolls her eyes; the spools of a tape deck go round and round; and the kittehs’ eyes turn into hypno-disks. Hypnotised, hypnotising, or both, they look like the proto-psychedelic cats of Victorian artist Louis Wain.
I own a book called Cat is Art Spelled Wrong, which attempts to theorise the phenomenon of internet cat videos, but mainly falls back into adoration. I think we love cat videos because they reflect our own incorrigible scopophilia. Cats, like humans in front of screens, will sit completely still and stare into space for hours. One Minute Enlightenment reminds us to at least roll our shoulders, neck and eyes from time to time, the better to continue our voyeurism indefinitely.
A Leaf by Jae Hoon Lee
Selection and words by Simon Palenski
I chose Leaf partly because the main vein of a leaf, the part that forms the midline and has the petiole at its base that connects to a branch, is called a midrib. Midribs (I like the word midrib) run down the centre of the blade (the leaf) according to my dictionary, which, as a definition, is a mirror of sorts to how the midribs appear to shoot up and up in this Jae Hoon Lee video.
Outside, at the time of writing, the shrill high summer ring of cicadas is not quite in season, but the post-winter blossoming spurt of leaf growth is. Lee has said “my images are a kind of membrane between the real and the digital realm” and in Leaf the vibrant form and texture of scanned, threaded leaves, picked by Lee over a cycle of seasons, offer a sense of something which seems familiar though has mutated and become otherworldly.
Fleeced by Brit Bunkley
Selection and words by Becky Hemus
There’s a note on my neighbourhood berm that reads, “Dear Dog, Please train your owner to pick up after you. Good dog.”
Humans look ridiculous in ties, especially when it’s obviously not a fashion statement. The ground is melting beneath them and they didn’t even realise.
Animated grass looks like astroturf and the blue sky like the inside of a flotation tank. Suboptimal conditions for making the shit fertilise any time soon, but here stands our sheep, unanimously glorious.
Do you know what my favourite part of the video is? The glassy water, frames overlapping. For a moment I forget where I am. Then the image collides with a computer and I am back to reality, hovering on the edge of collapse.