Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Inanimated


In the darkened shopfont gallery of the ID:I gallery in Stockholm are two video animations by Daniel Westlund titled “Kartongmannen”.

On the screen in a room not dissimilar to the room in the gallery a pile of brown cardboard boxes and white wooden chairs dance around in a poltergeistic animated dance, they rotate, slide and bump their way backwards, forwards and up and down through the room in never ending motion. The scratching, sliding, grating sounds of the objects emanate from the speakers. It is an amusing but somewhat baffling spectacle.

It is hard to tell what Westlund’s intentions were in the creation of this film. Is this clever digital tweakery?, real classic style 3d animation on a grand scale, and if so where are the strings? Does Westlund have some deep neurotic fear of moving, has some psychological damage occurred in the process of him moving house or studio? Is this is a cathartic exercise of control over some lost or damaged items from a previous removal from the past? Perhaps Westlund hates boxes and chairs and has embarked on this film to gain control of these poor objects and is making them dance in a never ending pirouetting hell? or is this just a rung on Westlund’s career ladder to whimsical animation director status?.

Whatever the case it is a capturing spectacle, pained or whimsical, lightly humorous or deeply significant it is entrancing. It is Westlund’s second video which makes the doubts creep in, an upturned coffee cup tiptoes its way on slim spoon legs in the middle of the screen with a gentle clip clopping sound of metallic feet, this is far too kitsch, it is fun for an animation short film but it is too light of touch. We want the bold and hard edges and threat of the boxes and chairs, we want poltergeists and neurotic shamblings of the inanimate coming to life and careering round rooms in an unpredictable and menacing fashion.

It is peculiar to see Westlund’s films in the confines of a gallery and it will be interesting to see which direction he takes, will we see more menacing poltergeists in galleries or cute and kitsch animated kitchenware on the big screen?.

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