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.