Synaesthetic Syntax – Visualizing the city in handmade film animation: cycles of bodily sensing and perceiving

Today, technological advances in audiovisual media are largely driven by a quest to accurately represent reality, a race toward the finito, a finite end, which should see representation and reality coincide. Commercial and utilitarian Film Animation can serve as a paradigm of this purposing of computer technology, with its wide use of CGI for creating photorealistic images and movement.

Parallel to the “perfect” threedimensional deception these virtual images offer, the real built environment of cities is also emulating computer generated imagery often created in similar software and presented as animation parametric design being a case in point, whereby a “perfect” endproduct is dictated by computer algorithms. This modernday obsession with machine precision that renders obsolete any technology it supersedes has no room for the unfinished, the decayed, and the slow, neither in processes of making nor in the spaces people inhabit.

With the premise that these undervalued qualities are essential to the lived experience of the body, employing traditional techniques in both Film Animation and Architecture that involve bodily ways may not be an act of regression but a revisiting of an unfinished business: that of reinstating the human body in both the built environment and its visualizations. My artistic practice consists of filmanimated works that reveal the human imprint which makes buildings living and meaningful objects that evolve ad infinitum. These works also reveal the human imprint of the animation and its “imperfections”. My presentation will highlight two ongoing researchcreation projects that are part of the Explorations in Sensory Design research programme, directed by Dr. David Howes of Concordia University and supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The first is an exploration of Montreal’s Urban Parks and their transformation during the time of pandemic restrictions; a transfer of personal sensory experiences and observed collective movements into drawn and handcrafted animation. The second is a speculation on the regulated sensorial environment of the Mall space and its future within the organic forces of the surrounding city, a contrast expressed by the varying degrees with which the computer is employed in generating the animated image.



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