On May-27-2022 I had a chance to present the Rear-Window Cinema project at a curated speaker series organized by the Digital Arts Community extension of SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques). The theme of this particular edition was “Expanded and Experimental Animation.”
When my presentation was accepted, I wondered if it was chosen as a counter-programming choice, given the predominant emphasis on real-time CGI, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and other technology-heavy approaches to “interactive media” that typically guide the ethos of the organization as a whole.
The event was moderated by Bonnie Mitchell, Rebecca Xu and Johannes DeYoung. You can find a list and short summary of all presentations here.
However, when I saw the full lineup of speakers, I was delighted to see that this event also included the work of Miwa Matreyek (artist’s website). Matreyek’s live animation performances combine digital animation, dual-projection techniques, and ‘pre-cinematic’ traditions like silhouette puppetry and vaudeville theatre acts. Her work had a major impact on me, when I had the fortune to encounter her piece Dreaming of Lucid Living, in person, at an animation festival. At the time, I was writing about the work of artist Kathy Rose, whose meticulously choreographed animation performances similarly used her body as a puppet and screen for projected moving images. However, while I was able to see photographs and recorded footage of Rose’s works, I’ve never had the chance to see any of them in person.
Miwa Matreyek’s live performances, which embed her body as a graphic silhouette choreographed alongside her animated projections, establish a palpable and intimate relationship between the animator, the animated composition projected onto a variety of screen surfaces, and the audience.
Matreyek’s talk at the SIGGRAPH event emphasized the importance of physical presence in her work and reminded us that interactive arts rely on bodies coming together to receive and exchange. This is something that I was grateful to echo in my own presentation, when speaking to the spirit of the Rear-Window Cinema project.
The specific Rear-Window Cinema work I chose to highlight in this talk was Chris Strickler’s “Lindenmayer Zooms”, which is the source of the title image for this post. Given this work’s experimentation with procedurally generated forms (L-system coding), it felt closest to what people might expect from a SIGGRAPH presentation. However, I also think this piece beautifully demonstrates how animators were challenged to respond to the specific dimensions, placement, and aspect ratio of their window. Strickler cleverly engages with the window frame in a witty, playful arrangement of houseplants getting together for a Zoom meeting.