Animation World Network is a top-notch website covering international animation in all kinds of ways, primarily focused on the industry but also celebrating the independent. Chris Robinson offered up some coverage for me over the last month on his “Lets Go Eat the Factory!” AWN blog and I highly recommend it. He’s one of the true devotees to the hear t and spirit of animation as a powerful medium, and he makes sure that artists are seen and heard, using his articles and blog with AWN, published book writing, and especially as Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.
Rolling Stone magazine has an article about the contemporary fascination with vintage 1930s cartoon animation. The article is focused on the wild and creative era of animation, and my short “Happy & Gay” is brought in as contextualization, with animation artist and scholar Lynn Tomlinson bringing up and speaking to my film’s contemporary goals. (Check out Lynn’s great creative work by following the link.)
‘Cuphead’: Why 1930s Animation Continues to Grip Contemporary Culture, By Jacob Kleinman
September 25, 2017
Rolling Stone article link
Lorelei Pepi, an American animation artist who focuses on issues of issues of identity and representation, used the same tactics in “Happy and Gay,” a short feature that imagines a 1930s-style cartoon world where queer couples were included in popular culture without being reduced to stereotypes. The short features a variety of stereotypes that were common at the time, including the Asian opium smoker and the effeminate “pansy.”
“It imagines a night on the town for gay and lesbian couples 1930s cartoon style,” says Lynn Tomlinson, an independent animator and professor at Towson University. “Of course, this nightlife did exist, but it wasn’t represented on screen because censorship and stereotypes effectively erased any positive representation of gay characters.”
My last film “Happy & Gay” (2014) has completed its festival run, but it’s still is receiving some requests for specialty screenings. During the entire month of October 2017, it will be screened in the “Cabinet of Curiosities and Abilities” program at the SESC Itaquera Brazil, which is a social-cultural organization for São Paolo. A SESC educator is there to facilitate community conversation about the cinematic works included, which is quite intriguing and wonderful.
The film has been picked up by three different companies for international distribution. The most recent, Peccadillo Pictures (UK), has just released my film as part of a DVD shorts compilation titled “Girls on Film 2: Before Dawn.” They’re doing a good job of getting it out there and my film has had some nice reviews to start things off. Film reviewer Jennie Kermode, of the British film review site “Eye for Film” wrote up a thorough and thoughtful piece. Tim he “all things gay media” review site Big Gay Picture Show gave my film a super shout out for the DVD compilation review.
It’s beautifuly observed, and its sharp wit makes it a delight to watch. Eye For Film review 2017
Happy and Gay is silly but very well done, perfectly capturing the feel of a 30s Merry Melodies-style cartoon. However, it gives things a smart, revisionist take, showing that life for some wasn’t that merry, as they were faced with homophobia, police raids and having to live in fear. It also subtly points out that while racism was perfectly acceptable to show back then, homosexuality wasn’t. A fun and entertaining slice of musical whimsy, which shows that sometimes things don’t change as much as we might think, even while they change a lot in other ways. Big Gay Picture Show review 2017
My project research has me considering image definition and standards. The act of looking and critiquing an image invariably includes its subject. The “male gaze” has already been described and defined quite adequately (check out Laura Mulvey’s pivotal writing,) so I won’t go into it here, but I discovered an interesting path that made me think about the collection of facts regarding standardized test images used for checking image quality in film, photo and digital software systems. People in media arts (film, video, publishing, gaming) know that it’s necessary to have color, luminance and resolution quality, and that a standard test image is often used to help calibrate image-making equipment settings.
In film, there was the invariable colour bars that everyone has seen, but there was also the “Indian Head Resolution Chart” and what we called in the film industry, the Girl Head. The Girl Head was a pretty young white woman in even lighting against a coloured bg with some prop, like plants) and a poster board of colour bars in the corner. This allowed the person doing the colour correction for film prints to have a standard set of caucasian skin and a range of colours to check their choices against. Film-goers would never see this Girl Head. It was trimmed off the reel once printing was completed. This film “Leader Ladies” (2006) brought great archival gathering of all kinds of Girl Head images from across the decades of filmmaking.
The use of women (this image standard is 99% exclusively women) as something to look at happened because white men were in charge of all of the technology. They made decisions about what they would prefer to look at, and not surprisingly, they chose pretty, young white women.
The surprise is not a surprise. Some of these early Girl Heads occurred because the academic scientists had copies of the softporn magazine, Playboy, lying around in those academic research labs. Of note is that one of the most famous standard image Girl Heads is Lena Sorenberg, and that it came from her Playboy centrefold. This should give rise to our awareness that these male-centric academic centres of learning and exploration had porn magazines be a regular part of the environment and social downtime. In this instance it’s USC Signal and Image Processing Institute, and Asst. Professor, Alexander Sawchuk ripping out Lena’s image to wrap it around a drum for scanning. After all, the Playboy mag was there, and the images were good quality, and they were bored with the previously used images.
Adding to this is that Lawrence Roberts, the “father of the internet” was one of the first to use fax scans of Playboy girls as part of his MIT thesis on digital image dithering (1962). He didn’t use nude girl images. Perhaps he chose the picture because it was a woman, the image was of decent quality, and it gave him an array of grey tones.
Now the main note that I want to make is that these pictures were available in the Playboy magazine, which caters to men’s desire to gaze at naked women (not a problematic thing in itself), and these were evidently a popular item in academic science labs, including MIT’s and USC’s. Porn isn’t inherently bad. But the intentions of how we look at one another when in positions of power, and how it relates to our social, economic and political activities DOES take place. In this unfolding scene, it was well known that academic science labs were environments where there were few to no women, and this is because of a long history of sexism and barriers against women and people of colour. These barriers and the contextualizing of the environment leads to a much heavier weight of what this “Girl Head” means in its final decoding.
When some of us point out what representation means in regards to a particular gender, race, ethnicity or any “type” of person, we are looking at the deeper insides of those histories that implicate how someone in power looks at another person that has less or no power. No adequate image ever arrives in the frame without someone’s informed gaze having placed it there. And that resultant image allows us to know what values were in place for that holder of the gaze. Porn magazines, image standards, and the (white) male gaze are a confluence of that power. And that’s why the Girl Head is also problematic. As slang, it turns a woman into a child, and reduces her power even further.
The Girl Head image is more than nostalgia, and more than just an image of a pretty woman.
I’m gathering more resources for how women in tech arts support and raise each other up. I’m sharing a few of these to spread the love.
WOMEN IN TECH-ARTS
FemTechNet is an activated network of hundreds of scholars, students, and artists who work on, with, and at the borders of technology, science, and feminism in a variety of fields including Science and Technology Studies (STS), Media and Visual Studies, Art, Women’s, Queer, and Ethnic Studies.
Model View Culture
A magazine about technology, culture and diversity.
Teaching Girls Online Skills for Knowledge Projects
HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) is an interdisciplinary community of humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists, and technologists that are changing the way we teach and learn.
From 2014 but interesting videos and info are worth reviewing. Deep Lab is a congress of cyberfeminist researchers, organized by STUDIO Fellow Addie Wagenknecht to examine how the themes of privacy, security, surveillance, anonymity, and large-scale data aggregation are problematized in the arts, culture and society. This operated out of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University
I’ve benefitted greatly from the super tutorials that these two people have provided online. Sharing!
Their tutorials are for using the Kinect V2 and Unity to perform interactive Gesture Control. The human left hand controls the movement of a 3D cube.
Computer with: Unity 5, Kinect for Windows Unity Package
“Kinect for Windows Unity Package”
This contains all kinds of scripts and more for using the Kinect V2 with Unity.
- Scroll down the webpage and find Unity Pro add-ons
- Unity Pro Packages > KinectForWindows_UnityPro_2.0.1410, DOWNLOAD
- Package includes essentials for Unity Kinect partnering
- Green Screen
- Kinect View
- Kinect 2.0
She doesn’t do these tutorials anymore, but they’re recent and this one was SUPER helpful. It was built on PeteD’s written out tutorial http://peted.azurewebsites.net/kinect-4-windows-v2-unity-3d/ PeteD’s finished version file of the following tutorial can be downloaded at http://1drv.ms/1tyKlIT. The only thing his doesn’t do is implement is the multiplier of the movement amount, but he does include pos.Z for movement of the cube.) Kris Rothe’s version is perhaps a little code-tidier in one section, but is otherwise almost the same.
Gesture Control with Kinect and Unity “made easy”
by Kristina Rothe (Micrsft / Tobii)
This following tutorial can be accomplished without the Kinect hardware/software up until the final “test your game” mode. It does involve using the SCRIPTS folder from the Kinect for Windows Unity Package. Going through this will help to demonstrate how to implement the Kinect and use a body part to affect a GameObject.
Explicit walkthrough of how to control a game object with the hand. Demonstrates by creating a “game” of moving a cube by tracking the user’s hand position. She then shows how to modify the cube range of response (degree of motion increase in relation to hand gesture)
<iframe src=”https://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/2p-start/Gesture-Control-with-Kinect-and-Unity-made-easy/player” width=”960″ height=”540″ allowFullScreen frameBorder=”0″></iframe>
KAT V. HARRIS
Kat V Harris has GREAT SUPPORT MATERIALS for Gesture Control Kinect and Unity. She’s super thorough and addresses the essential overview as well as needed details.
GitHub: KatVHarris > Unity5-KinectGestures
page includes links to other plug-ins
GESTURE RECOGNITION thru KINECT
Gesture Builder (Microsoft SDK Kinect V2)
The Kinect SDK (downloaded software from Microsoft so you can run your Kinect V2 through your computer.) has Gesture Builder, which allows you yo record a specific gesture, refine it, and use it in a compiled a library. You can then use these controlling gestures for the Unity “game” you’re making.
It’s essential that any import and install of Microsoft Kinect / Unity package files must be done in a defined ORDER. Kat walks you through it really well. It’s not complicated, but the order is important.
More accidents. Enjoy Grandma having a head trip. This one is some whacky Maya rigging conflicting with the Unity and mocap requirements.
Cosmo has been working on employing facial motion capture onto one of the models I’m using. Sometimes, things go horribly wrong – haha.
There are some amazingly great resources for engaging the Kinect V2 and Unity 3D, which is why I’ve elected to use tools together. The brilliance of people and companies that d this work and make it available is a big plus for me as an artist. Cosmo’s work here is focused on analyzing these pre-made codes and methods, and then modifying/re-writing and problem solving specifically for this project’s goals. He’s also doing a lot of work in preparing the models I’ve obtained for the purposes of this project. Because they come from all over the internet, there’s a lot of “fixing” to get them to all be conducive for this project. An essential part of this project is looking at these online commodities, these bodies of economic trade, so by necessity they come from the acts of buying, trading, an finding what other’s have made.
The role of how the female body is commodified and exploited, especially child females, is a serious issue. The project’s engaging with this horrifying virtual world where bought-and-sold avatars of women exist. As an animator, I’m interested in the manufacturing of these bodies and identities, as well as their subsequent use online.
My co-op student is Ziran Cosmo Chen, an Emily Carr Univ of Art & Design (ECUAD) undergrad, currently in his 4th year in the Animation Program. Cosmo has a background in interactive media and 3D animation (Maya primarily). His interactive media education happened at Alberta College of Art & Design (AACAD), and the animation at ECUAD. I just gave him a pep talk about making a website for himself…