Heart of Glass

At the recent Society for Animation Studies conference at RMIT in Melbourne, I was fascinated to discover the glass-mation work of Mark Eliott and Jack McGrath. In their presentation they described how a glass artist met an animator and their own distinctive brand of stop-motion was born. Created in collaboration with Vanessa White, Dr Mermaid and the Abovemarine was created frame-by-frame  in painstaking detail with molten glass and then digitally composited. It tells a tale of a marine biologist who can talk to fish.

Here are some beautiful Experiments in Living Glass made by Eliott and McGrath.

With the rich, tactile surfaces that they create, the work goes beyond the audiovisual and invites the viewer to want to reach out and touch it. For them, this materiality is evident in the work of Agnieszka Woznicka, whose film Birdy (2008) engages with a delight in surface texture. Part of the pleasure of watching her film lies in the details of the feathers, bark and moss – all beautifully presented.

Eliot and McGrath were also inspired by Karel Zeman’s 1948 film, Inspirace. This short film about a glass artist’s daydream starts inside a drop of water and features dancing ice skaters and penguins made of glass.

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Another source of inspiration was the Pes film, Western Spaghetti (2008), in which familiar objects are used in unconventional contexts that changes their everyday meaning.

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Nathalie Djurberg’s World of Glass was the first time that I had seen an installation that combined stop motion and glass. A new exhibition in Australia has just finished, which featured the work of a total of seven Australian artists combining glass and animation. From the 6th June to the 14th July, Deakin University Art Gallery in Melbourne held a Glassimations exhibition featuring the work of Eliot and McGrath as well as Tom Moore, Deirdre Feeney, Lee Whitemore, Lienors Torre and Alistair Boell who have all created a combination of animation and installations made of glass.

The catalogue (ISBN 978-0-9806214-9-5) features essays about glass as material and glass as philosophical metaphor. Here is a blog featuring some more glass animation work from some of the artists included.

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