Animation Stops Me, Animation Moves Me

Lesley Chan

I’m going let you in on a secret: I’m one of those people that can’t sit still. There are many reasons why people who can’t sit still can’t sit still, but for me it’s because I have a family of mini misfit giraffe poets living in my bum and if I sit around for too long they’ll get squished and I could never forgive myself for flattening a group of outcast giraffes who should actually be roaming the Sahara. I’m also one of those people who can’t stop my overactive imagination from making up ridiculous stories. In any case, animating is one of the rare activities that can keep me staying still for a long period of time – and believe me, it can take a very long time. But like many other processes that require a lot of time and patience, animation can create magical, mysterious and moving results.

There are many different animation techniques (object animation, pixillation, pinscreen, computer, and rotoscope, just to name a few) but the actual definition of animation is an ambiguous, thoughtfully debated and ever-changing idea in the history of art and animation theory. If you’re interested in exploring this interesting terrain, a great resource that comes to mind is Chris Gehman and Steve Reinke’s anthology The Sharpest Point: Animation at the End of Cinema. Even though there are many different types of animation that exist, animation in the popular imagination is associated with blockbuster hits and television shows coming out corporate studios like Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks. These popular images bring much visual pleasure but they may also be criticized for their problematic representations, their nostalgic and distorted views of history, and their perpetuation of conservative and commercial values to say the least.

Some consider animation to be the outsider of the Film World. Following this line of thought, then, independent and experimental animation can be considered the outsider of outsiders, the dwellers of the fringe of the fringe (maybe not unlike those mini misfit giraffes I mentioned earlier). Whatever the status of animation is, every animator animates for their own particular reason.

This programme offers us a small sample of animation techniques but gives us a wide range of concerns and desires, concepts and stories. These compelling films and videos use animation to reflect on a gesture or experience, to interrogate the self and the other, to investigate history and politics, and to un/make sense of the world around them. These works illustrate how animation can be especially useful for creating new places, imagined spaces, transgressing limits of time and space. The new realities they create can be funny, haunting, meditative, and in some cases the beauty is simultaneously halting and moving.


One-day, hands-on workshops for anyone interested in exploring the magical world of stop-motion animation. Moviemakers will be introduced to the basics of clay and object animation, storyboarding, set making, puppet making and making a simple soundtrack for movie. Moviemakers may want to try story telling but they may also animate ideas, thoughts and feelings. After all is said and done, moviemakers will receive a DVD of their brilliant work.

Materials and equipment are provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own recycled materials, found objects, personal items, and/or instruments… Hey, anything can be used in a movie!

Space is limited so please call the Durham Art Gallery early to register: 519-369-3692. Students should bring a light lunch and/or snacks.

Hey Mate! Let’s Animate!
Workshop for Children 7 - 14
Saturday, August 11, 10:00am – 3:00pm
Above Stedmans, Durham
$20/members or $25/non-members
Instructors: Lesley Loksi Chan with Lisa Kennedy

Stop! In the Name of Motion!
Workshop for Adults
Sunday, August 12, 10:00am – 3:00pm
Above Stedmans, Durham
$20/members or $25/non-members
Instructors: Lesley Loksi Chan with Lisa Kennedy

Workshop Screenings:

Adult Workshop

Genetic Admiration - Frances Leeming
Real Estate - Serena Lee
The Hat - Michele Cournoyer
Girl Smoking - Shaan Syed
Feather - Elisabeth Belliveau
Eaude - Thea Pratt

Children’s Workshop

The Egg
A Chairy Tale
Might of the Star Chaser
Joseph Lazare
Various films
Norman McLaren
and Jan Svankmajer

Contact: (519) 369-3692