When I made “Innocence of Seduction” in 2016, it was a total labor of love- it combined my love of Golden Age comics weirdness, old timey radio dramas and a collage aesthetic, largely made possible because of Adobe’s Character Animator software. I posted the work on Adobe’s forum and by virtue of having a big fan on Character Animator’s development team, I was invited to take part in a “Motion Comics” panel at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con! The panel is at 1 P.M. on opening day, Thursday July 20th, but you can check out the short film Innocence of Seduction here…
…and my corresponding tutorials on how I made the film, and operate within Character Animator, are on my Udemy instructor site!
During my recent trip to NYC I caught a gallery showing of German photomontage artist Grete Stern at the Museum of Modern Art. Stern fled the Nazis to Argentina in 1935, and produced a stunning series of images that are impressive for their creative weirdness as well as technical precision in the pre-computer, pre-xerox machine days.
The sense I get from Stern’s ideas is what I really want out of “assemblage” kind of art- a concept, completeness to the piece, and out-and-out craft and composition. As many modern collage artists show up on my Tumblr feed, few can pull those elements as tightly together as Stern did.
Appropriation in the art world is a fact of life. Every time someone:
-gets an idea from a movie, tv show, lecture, song, other piece of visual art
-creates a work that features a pop culture character, for example drawing a picture of the X-Men, or a character from religion/ myth/ shared culture (Jesus, Zeus, Dracula)
-samples a sound from another recording, or a visual reference from a film or tv show
there is some level of appropriation, or “borrowing something to recontextualize it”. Why this is controversial in some types of art and not others is a big mystery to me. I don’t know anyone who decries movies for basing films off of books or fairy tales. Disney built its empire on appropriation, not bland old Mickey Mouse.
Appropriation is a technique I probably couldn’t live without. Sometimes it definitely is about building works on the shoulders of giants- for example, in music, you could capture the spirits of Jimmy Hendrix and John Bonham by sampling their sounds and making them part of your band, if only for one song. Most of the time it’s about making use of pieces that I simply could not replicate. I cannot find a giant cockroach to menace a model and I can’t draw one, so appropriation is the only way to get the image to work.
One of my favorite works of appropriation by others is the early 80s film “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” starring Steve Martin. Martin interacts with old film clips and the noir tale is built around the pieces.