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Stereoptik

By: Phoenix Jay Posted: February-23-2012 in
Photo Credit - Claire Curt
Phoenix Jay

The fusion of live action with animation dates backs to the turn of the 20th century, when US newspaper cartoonist Winsor McCay created pioneering short Gertie the Dinosaur. During vaudeville performances, McCay would stand on stage, dressed in a tuxedo and wielding a whip, and instruct the animated brontosaur – projected onto a screen behind him – to perform various circus tricks. In a clip from 1914, McCay can be seen tossing a real apple to Gertie, who promptly ‘catches’ a cartoon version of it on-screen (the real apple never left McCay’s palm).

Such sleight of cinematic hand has come a long way since, as demonstrated by the 1988 box-office phenomenon Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Today, it’s French duo Jean-Baptiste Maillet and Romain Bermond who occupy what is perhaps live action-animation’s sharpest edge. The pair synchronise the creation of art and music in their avant-garde show Stéréoptik, which explores the relationship between sound and images, video and manipulation.

Each film sequence is put together in front of the audience’s eyes, with the two men stationed at either side of the stage. Drawings take shape and are projected onto a giant screen while original music is composed on the spot: as the animation evolves, so does the soundtrack. Maillet and Bermond play the roles of artist, storyteller, sound effects engineer, one-man band, projectionist, and props man. During the process, ‘light is shed upon the relationship between drawing and rhythm’.

Bermond’s drawing board serves multiple purposes: audio sensors create sonic effects with each brush stroke; an overhead projector shows paintings being made with sand. Meanwhile, Maillet improvises on the guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards, and drums. In one sequence, the scenery is drawn directly onto a 35 square metre canvas which slowly unfolds. Puppets are then manipulated in front of it, enacting the flight of a superhero, and a car chase. In another sequence, dots, lines and curves appear on paper as if by magic, drawn by an invisible hand.

Two stories intertwine in Stéréoptik, which Maillet and Bermond are bringing to the Chenla Theatre in Phnom Penh this weekend on the heels of a European tour. In the first, silhouettes embark on a voyage to discover the world; in the second, a buxom jazz singer is kidnapped by extra-terrestrials. Get your free tickets at the Insitut français or Amrita Performing Arts on Sothearos Blvd.

WHO: Jean-Baptiste Maillet and Romain Bermond
WHAT: Stéréoptik
WHERE: Chenla Theatre
WHEN: 7pm, Saturday, February 25
WHY: Animation at its most avant-garde


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This article was 1st published in The Advisor - All back issues are available as downloads here

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