Still Moving is one of three short films produced as part of my joint Master’s degree at York University / Ryerson University. During my graduate studies I was especially interested in experimental animation, including how different hand-made animation processes foster different relationships between a filmmaker’s body and filmmaking technology. This particular film was sparked by Oskar Fischinger’s wax experiments (1921-1926), which were produced by slicing through pillars of multicoloured wax (using a kind of custom guillotine) and photographing the slices one at a time [decades later a variation on this method would be known as “stratacut animation”).
I thought about Fischinger’s experiments in connection to Edwin Abbott Abbott’s 1884 book Flatland, which imagines a two-dimensional world as experienced by a three-dimensional being. To practice this kind of dimensional travel, I tried to animate my own body as it would appear when passing through a two-dimensional screen, head to toes. Searching for reference footage I discovered the Visible Human Project, an open-source project that treated two human cadavers exactly as Fischinger treated his pillars of wax, in order to produce anatomical rendering data. While working with this footage — re-animating bodies that have been de-animated — I was also reading Scott Curtis’ essay “Still/Moving: Digital Imaging and Medical Hermeneutics.” He asks:
“What makes the body so imperceptible, so resistant to quantification? Not only are its internal functions hidden, but the body itself is dynamic. It moves.” (225).Scott Curtis, 2004, p.225 (link)
I was already working on Still Moving when I read Curtis’ essay, but it helped me understand what I was looking for with my animation experiments. The film ended up exploring the mysterious hyphen between a living/nonliving body.
Unfortunately, both of the high-resolution digital copies of this film that I had stored on separate drives have been lost to a move and to technical damage, respectively — yet another important reminder that digital film is subject to loss and decay at least as much as celluloid film.