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Animation and Visual Culture from Ireland out

Last Build Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2018 23:49:36 +0000


Ta-ra, love!

Mon, 09 Aug 2010 09:00:00 +0000

Me and Ruth are in Vancouver for a week to celebrate the wedding of my sister, Kate, and her partner, Neal. Blogging on hold for a fortnight.

Awesome Names of World Cup 2010: Part 5

Fri, 09 Jul 2010 09:00:00 +0000

Freak Scene

Captained by Skrtel (born on the Klingon Homeworld),
Slovakia show strength and depth throughout the team. From Lubos Kamenar, Zabavnik, Hubocan, and Kornel Salata (which, by the way, is a delicous snack in Greece!), through Pecalka, Juraj Kucka, Zdeno Strba, to Holosko and Sestak, Slovakia look promising, and win through to the final, but their they face a veritable pantheon of unfortunate names.

Holland has taken the foolishly-named players of their European Awesome Football Names Cup 2008 campaign, marinaded them in strangeness and bred them with the unnatural, run their names through a word-mangler and served up a stew of uncanniness that would bemuse even the mighty Cthulu.

Stekelenburg, Boschker, Vorm, Van Bronckhorst, Ooijer, Heitinga, Edson Braafheid, Khalid Boulahrouz form a sturdy, if unsettling backbone. Afellay, Stijn Schaars, Demy de Zeuw (pronouced Dummy Duh Zeeoww!) and the implausible Rafael Van Der Vaart will be pulling the strange-strings in midfield and Dirk Kuyt, Eljero Elia and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will dominate the odd-box. Quality will out, Awesomeness will win!

Golden Name: Waldo Ponce
, Chile

Awesomest-named Newcomer:
Nikita Rukavytsya, Australia

Awesome Names of World Cup 2010: Part 4

Fri, 02 Jul 2010 09:00:00 +0000

(image) Semi-deranged

Switzerland's peculiarly-named (ghoul-faced) manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, fields a team as wealthy in the unfortunate-name stakes as it is in the chocolate and cuckoo-clock stakes. Eggiman, Grichting and Huggel are ably supported by Pirmin Schwegler, Xherdan Shaqiri and Albert Bunjaku and led by the redoubtable and hilariously-named Hakan Yakin. The Swiss power into the semis.

USA was the form team coming into this competition. With Brad Guzan, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan 'Wall of Sound' Spector, DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey, Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez, the USA pushed hard, and only narrowly lost out in the second semi-final.
They earned an honourable third place.

Awesome Names of World Cup 2010: Part 3

Fri, 25 Jun 2010 09:00:00 +0000

Quartered Uruguay look strong, mainly in the first names with Maximilliano Pereira, Walter Gargano, Egidio Arevalo, Edinson Cavani among their top performers, but with Muslera and Scotti playing a part, they do alright in the surnames too.Germany delivers another strong team of efficient memorably-named footballers, led by people's favourite, Hans-Jorg Butt and Leo's favourite Mertesacker. Holger Badstuber, Schweinsteiger, Mesut 'Admiral' Oezil and Cacau.Ghana will also provide strong opposition. John Pantsil, Hans Sarpei, Isaac Vorsah, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Asamoah Gyan and Prince Tagoe have plenty going forward and will keep it weird in defence.Serbia traditionally dominate in Awesome Names games. Any of Zeljko Brkic, Neven Subotic, Gojko Kacar, Zoran Tosic, Nenad Milijas and especially Dragan Mrdja could be Bond villains. But their bus stops at the quarter-finals.Nigeria fields an incredibly strong team. Bassey Akpan, Elderson Echiejile, Yobo, Shittu, Dickson Etuhu, Lukman Haruna, Mikel John Obi 'Wan Kenobi'. Disappointment for them, I fear. Ivory Coast shows up with typical strength. Boubacar Barry, Slaka Tiene, Yaya Toure, Gilles Yapi Yapo provide the ammunition for Kanga Akale, Aruna Dindane and Drogba. Their extra strength - in the form of Sven Goran-Eriksson (or Svengo Raneriksson, for the duration of this competition) - will surely push them into the semis.[...]

Awesome Names of World Cup 2010: Part 2

Fri, 18 Jun 2010 09:00:00 +0000

Sixteen of the BestGreece will field a stronger side than the one that dropped out in the first round of the European Awesome Football Names Cup. Alongside the experienced Patsatzoglou, they bring in three demons from the Hell Dimensions: Tzorvas, Moras, Gekas. They may cause some problems, but rely too heavily on the -opolous suffix. Denmark will battle valiantly, with Kroldrup, Agger and Mtiliga and Enevoldsen giving support to Bendtner, but lack the randomness necessary to get out of their group. Italy face the same problem. Long-serving Buffon, will lead out the likes of Quagliarella and Gilardino. With only oddness (rather than outright weirdness) to offer, these teams will not challenge for places in the later rounds. Spain have some good names, with Mata and Jesus Navas, supported by the weirdly-named veteran Capdevila. Brazil always have a chance when there's a player called Kaka in their team, and Nilmar and Grafite make up the numbers. But both teams lack awesome strength in weird depth. Neither through final sixteen. Those other Iberians Portugal are in a rich vein of form with Beto, Ze Castro, Duda and especially Danny, backing up Nani and Fartface... I mean Cristiano Ronaldo. France have some good names - Mandanda, Squillaci, Planus and Gourcuff - but just not enough of them. Little Aussie battlers Galekovic, Culina, Vince Grella, Mile Jedinak, Tommy Oar will punch above their weight, but cannot prevail to the quarter-finals. Both teams will fall at the second hurdle. Bobadilla: YES! Ortigoza: Fantasmus! Estigarribia: Wundermeistersturm! Rodolfo Gamarra (recently awoken by an accidental Nuclear explosion and intent on destroying Japan): A Thousand Times WHY!? Formidable names all. However, despite sporting an array of names that sound like they have gone through the word blender, Paraguay lack depth in their squad. It will cost them.South Africa put together a super-strong team this time. Macbeth Sibaya led the line, ably supported by Surprise Moriri, Bongani Khumalo, Innocent Mdledle and Shu-Aib Walters. Cameroon too is back to something like its strangest, with Gaetan Bong, Rigobert Song, Eyong Enoh, Georges Mandjeck, Landry N'Guemo providing steel, and Aboubakar and Eric Choupo Moting giving a cutting edge. Both teams topped tough groups, but could not survive the pace of the final sixteen.Sixteen have gone. Sixteen remain. [...]

Something for the Weekend: Nudge

Sat, 12 Jun 2010 09:00:00 +0000

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Very cool music app.

(via Conor)

Awesome Names of World Cup 2010: Part 1

Fri, 11 Jun 2010 09:00:00 +0000

Paraguay's Rodolfo Gamarra (above) scores in the qualifier against Brazil.Now is the time for World Cup 2010, in South Africa!It's arrival can only spell one thing... the presence of some awesomely-named footballers! This is how the World Awesome Football Names Cup 2010 will unfold.The Group StrangesSome teams have nothing to offer in the strangely-named stakes. New Zealand is just such a team. So too are North Korea and South Korea. They will go straight out, leaving us to wonder if we ever saw them at all. Instead, watch out for referees Benito Archundia and Olegário Benquerença, moonlighting from their respective day jobs as lawyer and Insurance agent. Despite the best efforts of George Welcome, Honduras will probably go out in the first round. Likewise for Marcus Tulio Tanaka of Japan. Algeria will make a promising return to the World Awesome Football Names Cup with Gaouaoui (pronounced Ga-ou-a-ou-i) and Boudebouz, but not enough to get out of their group.And there are some big name casualties early on. Argentina have their poorest showing in many years, despite their talis-manager, Maradona, Pozo and Messi shining. Mexico also disappoint, except for their one genuine star, Aztec high priest, Cuauhtemoc Blanco. The departure of England is another shock. Failure to invest in creepily-named youngsters is evident all over the pitch. A player with two surnames, Leighton Baines, and one with two first names John Terry, are just not random enough at this level. Tom Huddlestone and of course Dickens-novel-escapee Peter Crouch play well, but England miss out on a final sixteen place.Next week: Sixteen of the Most Awesomely-Named[...]

The 10 Commandments of Design: Good Design Makes a Product Useful

Wed, 09 Jun 2010 09:00:00 +0000

This is the second article in my series looking at Dieter Rams's Ten Commandments of Design. Read the introduction and the first article.

Rams's second principle of good design is that it makes a product useful:
'A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.'
'Usefulness' is, in a sense, too simple a term to capture the nuance of use; it is a term from another age. It cannot hope to imply the multiple interests now at stake in a piece of design. Branding has, in many ways, replaced usefulness as a criterion for successful design. The values or emotions created by a design are now more important than their utility.

(image) Sneakers are a prime example. What is the best sneaker? The one that is most comfortable? The one that is best for your feet? The most durable or weather-resistant? All of these questions are beside the point of sneaker design.

The best sneaker is the most desirable, gives a positive branding to the wearer. The usefulness of the sneaker comes from its ability to reflect consumer identity. This usefulness is not necessarily in the best interest of the consumer; although it is certainly in the interest of sneaker manufacturers.

Much design is, in fact useless. It is neither integral to the product nor does it enhance it in any tangible way, but rather furthers the product's brand in some way. This is the molding of emotional content, but it is far away from what we think of as design, where form serves function.

On Gestures and Character: Leonardo Da Vinci

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 09:00:00 +0000

Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the Renaissance artists who particularly fascinates me: Leonardo was both incredibly interested and open-minded about what he observed and reflective about his work. (I love the work of Albrecht Dürer for the same reason.)

To my understanding, both gesture (how a character moves,
the energy of a figure's movement or posture) and gestures (what a character does) are crucial to drawing for Animation. They say everything about character and story. I like to dip into a book of excerpts from Leonardo's prodigious notebooks.

Here is a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci on the subject:

'A picture or representation of human figures ought to be done in such a way that the spectator may easily recognise, by means of their attitudes, the purpose in their minds. Thus, if you have to represent a man of noble character, in the act of speaking, let his gestures by such as naturally accompany good words; and, in the same way, if you wish to represent a man of brutal nature, give him fierce movements; as with his arms flung out towards the listener, and his head and breast thrust forward beyond his feet, as if following the speaker's hands.'

Something for the Weekend: Henchin'

Sat, 29 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

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Some years ago, a friend and I wrote a short mockumentary film script called
Henchmen, in which some luckless ex-henchmen talked about the travails of their careers in what they called 'henching'.

Well, seemingly good ideas never die, they just go to other people, such as Venezuelan/Canadian animator Javier Badillo in his short film Henchin'.
I'm particularly loving the animated title sequence.

(via Cartoon Brew)

On Drawing: Kimon Nicolaides

Fri, 28 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

Here's a great quote from the introduction to Kimon Nicolaides's famous instructional book, The Natural Way to Draw:
'There is a vast difference between drawing and making drawings. The things you will do - over and over again - are but practice. They should represent to you only the result of an effort to study, the by-product of your mental and physical activity. Your progress is charted, not on paper, but in the increased knowledge with which you look at life around you.'

The 10 Commandments of Design: Good Design is Innovative

Wed, 26 May 2010 15:00:00 +0000

The first of Dieter Rams's Ten Commandments of Design is that good design should be innovative.
'The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.'
Innovation has become a very trendy word, thrown about with abandon, by politicians and business people. It has the advantage of not meaning anything particular, but having a kind of 'you-know-it-when-you-see-it' connotation of freshness and novelty. It's cultural, it's technological and it's about contexts: how and when we do what we do.

It is interesting that Rams makes an assertion of the necessity of innovation alongside a caveat to it. In his book The Craftsman, Richard Sennett quotes Robert Oppenheimer's diary:
'When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atom bomb.'
In a nutshell, this describes the problem of innovation. What and how one does something are surely subservient to why one does it. It is quite possible to be innovative without having any imagination. Making something without knowing why is not necessarily a recipe for innovation. Not every idea is a good one.

The 10 Commandments of Design: Introduction

Wed, 26 May 2010 08:58:00 +0000

I am currently watching a television series called The Genius of Design on BBC 2. I happen to have done a little graphic design, when I lived in London, and it is a subject I find compelling.

Design is ubiquitous in modern life and indeed human life. (In a sense, all human action ids) A
big part of my interest in Comics and Animation centres on the role design plays in how (and whether or not) they work.

Genius of Design focusses on Industrial Design, but I believe that the processes and motivations of design transcend their fields of practice. One of the designers featured on the first programme was Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer whose designs for Braun in the 1960s and '70s are considered iconic.
'Back in the early 1980s, Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?'
This, then, is the first of a short series of blog posts musing on design, through the lens of Rams's Ten Commandments of Design:
  • Good design is innovative
  • Good design makes a product useful
  • Good design is aesthetic
  • Good design makes a product understandable
  • Good design is unobtrusive
  • Good design is honest
  • Good design is long lasting
  • Good design is thorough down to the last detail
  • Good design is environmentally friendly
  • Good design is as little design as possible

On Animation: Stephen Spielberg

Mon, 24 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

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That's great, Stephen. Now what's your excuse for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

(via Jamaal Bradley)

Buck Rogers... still incoming

Sat, 22 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

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Holy shit! Is that Gil Gerard and Erin Gray (who played Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering in the 1980s TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century)?

Empathic Civilsation

Fri, 21 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

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Amazing and fascinating (amazingly fascinating) video from the RSA, somewhere between animation and illustration, of Jeremy Rifkin's ideas about empathic civilisation. This idea is close to my heart and the method of presentation is nothing short of incredible.

(via Scott McCloud)

Sean Hillen, Irelantis

Wed, 19 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

In this essay, written last month for an Art History class I review the exhibition, at the Alliance Française, in Dublin, of Sean Hillen's Irelantis series of photomontages. 1:It is strangely fitting that the exhibition of Sean Hillen's Irelantis photomontages appears in the cafe of the Alliance Française, on Kildare Street, in Dublin city centre, rather than in a private art gallery. The purpose of the Alliance Française corresponds, in a curiously satisfying way, with the objectives of Hillen's work. The Alliance is a small outpost of French culture - maybe even a slightly idealised version of French culture, like the Paris of Jeunet’s Amèlie - within the context of Irish cultural life. So Hillen's Irelantis series of photomontages - taking as its source material John Hinde's 1960s postcards of an idyllic rural Ireland - nests one Ireland of the imagination within another. The cafe setting of the Alliance is doubly appropriate, in that its air of sophistication and cosmopolitanism, its clean white walls and stripped floorboards, call to mind the kind of modern eateries that became ubiquitous during Ireland's boom, and are now receding from all but Dublin's poshest streets. Hillen's Irelantis represents not only the vertiginous dreams of the late 1990s and early 2000s that suddenly became possibilities - like facts just newly discovered - but the chimerical nature of those possibilities, the sad truths behind those facts. 2:Sean Hillen is a Northern Irish artist, born in Newry in 1961. He studied at Belfast College of Art and then the London College of Printing and The Slade School of Fine Art, in London. He became known for his LondoNewry photomontages, in which he used elements of his own photographs of everyday life during the Troubles, in Northern Ireland, and transplanted them into tourist photographs of London. Some critics found this work unsettling and aggressive, and even political in its outlook. Hillen denied this and subsequently, with the Irelantis work, sought to distance himself from what he perceived as a dead-end, creatively: ‘I was representing the fantasy, postcard London, alongside the cruel reality that the comfort, that power to write this image of oneself - indeed all cultures - are built on savagery of some kind, and that the whole thing is circular. I wasn't saying this was fact or reality. I was just asking 'how would you like this situation on your street? - trying to project the viewer into my experience of confronting a number of conflicting realities at once.’The medium of photomontage recombines elements from various photograph sources to make new works of art. The earliest juxtapositions of photographic images date back to the Victorian era, with darkroom experiments. However, photomontage proper developed with the development of the mass popular press and the emergence of the Dadaist movement in the 1920s, when artists like John Heartfield used photomontage to make powerful, graphic and critical statements about contemporary society and politics. Art critic David Evans proposes a number of lenses through which photomontage can be seen. For example, 'montage' is a german word to describe the way an Engineer fits component parts together: 'Describing oneself as a photomontage artist, therefore, was a calculated provocation in which the traditional distinction between aesthetic and industrial activities was collapsed.' Evans's other lenses refer to the humour and revelry implicit in photomontage and the visual (and actual) scavenging necessary to craft such images. Sean Hillen is distinguished from other artists by his frequent use o[...]

Welcome back!

Mon, 17 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

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After a hectic year, in which I got married and completed a foundation year of Animation at Ballyfermot College of Further Education, I am back on the blog. (Actually, that doesn't sound great.)

Above you can see some really rough pencil tests that I did as exercises in college:
  • A swinging pendulum with a string attached to it.
  • A balloon getting blown by the wind (please excuse the timing).
  • A character (based on a cardboard box) which falls and then gets back up.
They are pretty horrible, but they are my very first attempts. Stick around. I'll post some better stuff later in the summer.

Anyway, now that I am not staying up drawing into the wee hours, I am ready to hold forth again on subjects with which I have only passing acquaintance! Opinion HO!

Escape from Upstate New York

Sat, 01 May 2010 09:00:00 +0000

My friend, Flav, is going to Buffalo, New York, for a bit. This mix is in his honour.

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Wedding Vows

Fri, 26 Mar 2010 10:00:00 +0000

(image) Wish us luck!

(via Paddy Brown)

Stocking Filler: Hyperspace Montage

Mon, 21 Dec 2009 10:00:00 +0000

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OK To Go by Claire L. Evans and Mike Merrill. How many hyperspace sequences do you recognise? I only got a couple.

(via via Rhizome)

Buck's Back

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 10:00:00 +0000

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I am prepared to feel moderately entusiastic about this trailer for the forthcoming Buck Rogers web series.

(via Scans_Daily)

The Lighthouse Keeper

Mon, 23 Nov 2009 10:00:00 +0000

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The Lighthouse Keeper by graduates of the Gobelins School of Visual Communication in France.

(via Drawn!)

Something for the Weekend: Rings Around the Earth

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 10:00:00 +0000

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(via Boing Boing)

Save our Arts

Fri, 20 Nov 2009 10:00:00 +0000

If you wouldn't mind, er, saving the Arts in Ireland, that would be great.

(image) The upcoming budget is likely to do away with the perennially under-threat tax exemption for artists in Ireland. The exemption allows artists (including writers and presumably animators - hmm, maybe I should research this) not to pay tax on earnings from their artworks.

The fallacy seems to persist that artists are rolling around on their cash mattresses, yucking it up at the taxpayer's expense. Anybody who's ever tried to get money out of a film producer can attest that this is not the case.

The most recent research on working conditions in the theatre
estimated the average working wage in the theatre to be about €22,000 per annum. And that was in the good times. (Yeah, I did do some research on this.) Hardly worth getting out of bed for dahling.

Artist types fear that they will effectively be 'put of business' by such a move. The National Campaign for the Arts aims to make policy-makers at least think twice about it. Why not sign their petition?

The interweb is great for this kind of thing.

(via Hilary, Long Stone Comics)

Photo courtesy of Jaqian on Flickr