Becky James teaching Portfolio
Meaning hanging by a thread—more tense than pure abstraction, in my recent work I have been distressing signs. One of my imperatives in working with signs is to make feminist art that does not approach the body as the primary site of truth. I wrote a list of potentially subversive actions I could employ as a woman. I wrote a list of potentially subversive techniques I could employ as an artist.
My animation explores the edges of narrative, where story runs into routine or grows out of loosely-connected imagery. Selecting certain essential narrative ideas, I leave out the glue between them, so that the viewer must step in to provide connections—making leaps of understanding rather than passively riding to a gradual climax. My work is intended to be an interpretive, self-expressive act for the viewer. What can the fringe of narrative show us about how we put together stories of our lives?
One of the things I like about animation is how it moves between contexts—a thin gelatinous layer spread over propaganda and advertising, reaching avant-garde film and gallery animation, touching children’s media and scientific visualization. I used to draw lines separating these things—art from entertainment, science from play—but these days I see so many more similarities: each attempt to create a new way of looking at the world. Animation creates a world as it creates a story—it is performative film.
I have always loved the process of creating animation, particularly hand drawn animation: the particular excitement of extremely gradual change, the physical exertion of repetition, the way living in a black and white drawing can make you forget about the color red. Working on a project literally changes what I see around me, not to mention what I find funny or strange. Animation makes me realize that what I observe in the world is a reflection of myself. Changing our perception of the world can change the world we live in.
Wittgenstein wrote, “to imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.” Is to imagine a form of animation to imagine a form of life? I envision a form that is flexible, that oscillates between logic and nonsense to convey the idea that there is no Truth, but that doesn’t mean truth can’t be changed. :D