Sunday, July 25, 2004



Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Explains the creative process and shows how creativity can enrich lives.

No time to blog.
There is so much to write here. Especially now that I am faced with sourcing some kind of psychological definition of improvisation. AF first put me onto Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I have not yet ventured into any of his writings, just the usual web search, which has proven to be insightful. I am intrigued and unsettled about someone "explaining" the creative process.
Here, I will just quickly jot down some mind flutters that I may or may not get back to.
+ High Brow/ Low Brow epistemological thoughts of sorts. ha!
There is a certain sound that I hear when I think of someone giving a "psychological explanation of the creative process". And that would be the sound of a balloon deflating.

All roads lead to poetry.

oW ow oW



Saturday, July 24, 2004



See James Patterson's PressTube

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

twylaTharp Movie
(Quicktime mov)

The thing about research is that it opens so many wonderful and intriguing doors, yet at the same time accentuates how much I don't know and how much more I need to know. AND findout.

Yesterday I talked to ES, a dancer who utilizes improvisation in the process of her work, and infact often will perform an improvised piece. We talked about Butoh.
An interesting article which contains an informative background to the practice of Butoh and an outline of (a) Butoh method "
Butoh dance, a radical dance form originated by Tatsumi Hijikata in the 1950s in Japan, has been more than a performing art. "

Also we talked about the dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp

Tharp's methodology (at one point in her career). (I will have to qualify this information, as I have gleaned it from the conversation with ES. Also note that the Tharp movie that I popped into the title of this entry is edited and choreographed. I know not if it is improvised.)

1. Tharp improvises a dance and records it, (the performance or act).
2. She then gives the video to the dance company she is working with and instructs them to learn the dance.
3. Then as she watches the dancers perform she choreographs the piece.

The final product is a choreographed piece that has utilized improvisation within the process.

An example and comparison of production methods.

1. Pre Production -improvise and record
2. Production -composit, into other bodies/performers
3. Post Production -choreograph/edit

1. Pre Production -improvise and record
2. Production -composit
3. Post Production -edit/choreograph

Does it need to be edited? No. This is just a method that Twyla Tharp has used and I am comparing it to an animation production process. The recording of the improvisation is a noteworthy point in this comparison.

Other things to note and extrapolate upon at some point. (SOON!)

+ The facility to record and playback an improvised piece. How this factors into improvisation techniques/outcomes in various media.
+ How various animation programmes incorporate this feature.
+ Improvisation is an unedited process, it is a creation realised (completed?) in the moment.
-Can it be edited?
-Is it still an improvisation?
-Yes. Improvisation is a technique that can be used in pre-production, production, and (even) post production.
-No. Though it has used the technique of improvisation within the production process to create the final piece.

+ The body. Acting and performing.
Animating a character is not just about making him/her/it smile and frown accordingly.
Essentially as an animator you are acting and performing through the medium of animation, the process of animating, which requires a certain set of skills and learned techniques. An example of one of these, in the case of my paper which focusses upon 2D animation, drafting skills . The "performing" character is a series of drawings, eg:12 to 25 drawings per second. Each drawing takes a certain amount of time to draft. Creation time outweighs performance time, which means the character can not be created and "perform" in realtime. IE: the animated character cannot perform live in the same way one can on stage with dance, theatre and music. So how can an animator improvise?*

+ Performing Improvisation = A state of mind, which also has to incorporate a state of mind/body.
In the case of animating, the actual crafting or creation of the medium requires the animator's expression of the mind/body to be realised through a series of sequential drawings through the physical act of hand eye coordinated movements.
The improvising animator has to combine a state of mind/body with the physical act of hand eye coordinated movements that essentially create a performance through sequential drawings of a character.

To be improvising while animating one either needs to be drawing quite quickly (good drafting skills, cartoonist, abstract marks) to remain in "flow", or one needs to be able to create this sense of flow and remain focussed in a slower time frame (eg Kentridge).
Kentridge has his studio, technique and pre production set up in such a way so as to provide for this kind of focus and/or flow.

There is so much more to unravel and pick at in the previous parragraph. Infact alot of what I have written is quite problematic, and the definitions need to be grappled with and ironed out. but there it is for now.

I watched Shrek 2 last night. I also interviewed DD from Playback Theatre Company.
We talked about timing. Which factors into the value of improvisation.
+ Voice actors improvising.
+ Improvising with other actors.


*Note: Already in this blog I have given a hypothetical technique to animate in realtime to music, using abstract marks. See blog entry: July 9 2004, Quick Sticks.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I've not really written too much about the sense of story as yet.
This would fit into the value of improvisation (re my paper).
I should be reading a whole lot of books that are specific to acting. eg


Oh I think I hear the scope of my paper exploding again.

When is this paper due in?

......mumble mumble mumble

Improvisation links.

Melbourne Playback Theatre Company
Playback Theatre is a unique form of improvised theatre, presented by a team of professional actors and a musician.
A  performance is led by a conductor, who facilitates the sharing of audience stories and experiences. The actors and musician then re-enact stories,
using a variety of improvisational forms. The immediacy of group and personal experiences is transformed by the power of theatrical performance. Playback may be humorous, poignant or revealing all in the same show. Playback is a mirror to the experiences of the audience.
The Melbourne company is part of a world-wide network of independent Playback Theatre Companies

I'll be chatting to Daniel Diessendorf (from Playback) tomorrow about improvisation. I'll be asking about the technique and process Playback use and why one would improvise.

What I am searching for today are reference-able definitions of improvisation in varying art forms, mediums and creative practices. I am finding it hard to word and or express with clarity ( in my paper) WHY one would improvise. Even though the answer sits close to my heart. So there it is, my words come out sounding so esoteric and whimsyfluff. This is actually something I have felt right from the word go with this paper, which almost lead me to write on other matters. So here is my challenge.

Here. Theres a good definition on the Canberra Playback site.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

A Winter's Day

A W D new link 7/9/04

I've just discovered an animation that relates to Marv Newland's Anijam. A Winter’s Day is an animation film that draws it's technical concept from the Japanese literary form of the renku. Thirtyfive animators from around the world respond to a Matsuo Basho poem. Matsuo Basho is one of Japan's most famous haiku poets, celebrated for popularizing renku, a chain poem in which different poets take turns to compose haiku verses.

I haven't found any more information on techniques so I'll just pop up the link and a quote for now.
“Actually its directed by 35 animators from all over the world, primarily from Japan though. They took a long poem and each director took a haiku and they did it in animation, using their own particular style. Its quite interesting and quite amazing all the various animation styles” Dave Chua, organizer of Animation Nation, Singapore’s Animation Film festival. 2004

Mark Baker has animated a short (1’40”) sequence for Imagica Japan’s film “Winter Days”. Animators from around the world have interpreted the 36 linked verses (renku) contained in Matsuo Basho's poem "Fuyu No Hi" (Winter Days).

Krazy Kat


I've just watched Origins of American Animations 1900-1921.
It included some splendiverous animations of George Herriman's Krazy Kat.
Krazy Kat Goes A-Wooing was animated by Leon Searl. It is lovely but seems to lack the true Herriman touch.
Krazy Kat - Bugologist feels more in tune with the sensibility that is apparent in the Krazy Kat comics. Krazy Kat - Bugologist was the only one actually directed by Herriman himself it seems. These are both fromm 1916, Hearst/International Film Service.

Men's Styles
A very lovely animation animated by Harry S. Palmer and produced by the Gaumont Company.
Arthur "Pop" Momand's comic strip (1913), "Keeping Up With the Joneses", was the basis for this 1915 animation.

It is so nice to see the act of drawing filmed/animated in this way. I'm refering to the first part of the animation where Pa McGinnis is being drawn and we see the artist's hand. I believe you were called a "lightening cartoonist" if you used this technique. I'll have to clarify that.

The technical (straight ahead) process of "lightening cartooning" is close to McClaren's pastel method and Kentridge's charcoal method of animating, in that it is a drawing being captured at various stages in time by the camera rather than a series of drawings filmed in sequence to create animation. "Lightening Cartooning" appears to be more about capturing the process of (one) drawing rather than improvising an idea. Could it be used as a technique to improvise ? Well yes it could if you used the technique to create a character in the moment as you filmed. You could do an Exquisite corpse ( that Surrealist drawing game).
Fizzog McInnes showed me an animation jam he did with David Williams that was improvised. It contained alot of morphing and was quite funny. I'll up load it here soon. It was a hand drawn on paper animation.

+animated drawings
+drawings animated

++++thinking about the function of this blog++++
Essentially many of my posts contain investigative notions that pertain to definitions that are solidifying in my Ma paper and are as yet not clarified in this blog. For the sake of contextualising my journey of research I feel I should include a more structured delivery of these definitions. However they are still being fluffed up and spread out in my drafts and thus I like to utilize this blog as the "Open Slather" component of my research.

I just thought of the names for a couple of cartoon characters I shall have to draw. They are called "Cathart" and "Procrast"

Friday, July 09, 2004

Quick Sticks

Quickly I shall jot down thoughts about outcomes and possibilities for improvisation.

+ What kind of results could be achieved?

1. Animate on a theme

+ Anijam by Marv Newland stars his own Foska character.

© International Rocketship.
International Rocketship founder Marv Newlands Anijam produced in 1984 features sequences by 22 different filmmakers which are linked together using the last drawing of each artist's section to begin the next. This process relates to the Exquisite Corpse exercises of literary and visual surrealist artists of the past century.

+ Or more recently ASIFA-NW Flash Anijam made in 2002 using flash.

+ Florance Miaihle
She does a detailed story board, and improvises when animating within a shot.

2. Animated sketchbook-flash

3. Live improvised 2D animated vj
+like a VJ responding to music live. Using a digital pen and tablet, responding, making marks live and improvised to music. Set up, for example, projected onto a black background then animator creates marks in response to the music and controls how long the marks exist on the screen before erasing and continuing with the marks. The visual style would be similar to

Carmeras Take Five, by Steven Woloshen. Drawn, animated marks responding to The Dave Brubeck Quartet playing Take Five. Canada 2003, screened in this years MIAF Melbourne. I don't think it is pure improvisation to the music. It would be edited methinx.

......AND then I check to see how he made it!

+++Cameras Take Five +++
In between his day jobs, Steven Woloshen has been creating handmade, cameraless animation for nearly 20 years, in cinemascope! His latest work, Cameras Take Five, is an abstract exploration of Dave Brubeck's classic jazz standard, 'Take Five.' Engraving and painting directly on film stock, the animation is a swirling dance, the 'enduring romance of lines,' as Woloshen says. It is the popping peekaboo pizzazz of dots, a firework display, a miniature maelstrom of color. Lines extending, collapsing, tumbling, folding, curling. Greens and purples. At times, it looks like holes are burned directly into the emulsion.

In his visual interpretation of 'Take Five,' there were no edits or cuts. There was no planned narrative or characters. Woloshen explains, 'The idea was digested in my head for approximately one year. Then, without storyboards or script, I started Cameras Take Five, and I let the music lead me where it wanted to go... As I worked and listened to the track, the line drawings (representing the sound of a saxophone) were leading me either to one side of the frame or the other. Two main colors began to dominate, and I was sectioning my parts into choruses, solos and refrains. '

This is an experience thrown down (on film). It is the marriage of motion and music, the tender goodnight kiss of animation in its simplest form. ++++++++
AWN link Friday, July 09, 2004

The (loose) idea I have would be a direct response, in time, in the moment to the music. Abstract marks, Like automatic writing, all created and projected in realtime.



24-Hour Comics

24-hour animation

Is improvised?

Righto. Back to the real world.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Tomorrow I’ll be moving all of my delightful crud into my new room.
I have a sensation in my belly, which is similar to one I get every New Year’s Eve.
Some sort of transition will occur over night,

At the moment the room is empty and acoustically fun.
I wonder what kind of shadows it will have on the wall every morning and night.
My last room had beautiful shadows in the evening if the sun happened to be around that day.

The roof points in this little wooden loft I am in currently. For the last few nights I have been aware of the moon and it’s journey of beams up one side of my roof, touching the point as I lay in bed directly underneath, and then down the other side and eventually escaping across and away to the other side of the city.

From one side of the room the window faces east and I can see the Mountains.
The other side’s window faces west and I can see the other Mountains.
It is hard to explain to anyone how much this excites me.
Perhaps it stems from “Dunderklumpen” the first movie I ever saw. Perhaps engaging with a live Mountain was a reality for me for many years. Hmmm I’ve gone all reflective here haven’t I. Well it’s a nice change I suppose.

Actually. Yesterday I accidentally watched Totoro again. I nipped over to see P + D to show them a William Kentridge video. I took Totoro on the off chance they might like to watch it also. I really intended to stay for five minutes.

So then we watched it. It triggered different parts of my being this time. Watching Mei playing around with tadpoles and buckets I found myself engaged in a feeling that evoked something of my own childhood experiences. It was so nice fiddling and building in mud, or devoting a whole day to discovering new insects and chasing them to see what they felt like.


It fascinates me that Miyazaki (the director) depicted big fat cute Totoro standing close to a really ugly (in comparison) realistic looking frog. With an equally “ugly” croak.
Mei looks exactly like a frog when she pokes at the tadpoles.
There are such lovely subtleties entwined in Miyazaki’s film.

There is a pattern inside tonight’s blog entry that moves through Miyazaki’s film, chasing insects all day, and the process of improvisation. It’s a very soft pattern, indeed so quiet I’ll call it a patter. To which I will listen to as I drift off to sleep in the last night in the loft.


Sunday, July 04, 2004


The animation festival was really refreshing.
Been thinking about anthropomorphism in animation. Unfortunately this has nothing to do with other pressing ISsUes in my little corner of the world.
Must finish research paper. Must.


I wish I could go to Canada and lurk in the National Film Board's archives for awhile.


The uzzer night I was dubbing animations at AIM for their journey to Bosnia, and I sat down to view one of my favourite animations "Black Fly" by Chris HInton on the ACME filmworks website. Ooh I love it. Particularly the little skeleton. Awww. He makes me chuckle everytime I see him shuffle along.
The name Chris Hinton suddenly triggered a spark in my incredibly large and exceedingly thoughtful head.

The best animation at the recent Melbourne animation festival was Flux by Chris Hinton!
Flux is just so fantastic. I'd like to write about it. And I will soon.