CERNUNNUS: RESEARCH AND REFLECTION
“Whatever pursuit we are engaged in, we are acting consciously or unconsciously upon some theory, some view of things. And when the limits of daily routine are continually narrowed by the ever-increasing complication of our civilization, it becomes doubly important that not one only but every kind of thought should be shared in.”
What is the Fourth Dimension? (1884)
by Charles Howard Hinton
(above) This excerpt concisely outlined problems with originality and pushing boundaries in creating a ‘new’ perception of a world that was brought up to us in class, coincidentally I found it from the piece I studied to visualize a fourth dimensional being.
The task this week was character design. It was a task that Alicia, Aaron, Patrick and I all participated in but I had the role of finalising a character design in our world.
Rubber Hose Animation – the first standardized style of animation in 1920s America. Features include it’s lack of articulation of realistic anatomy, followed curves, movement was loose, characters glide with high-energy through their environment. This inspired me for Concept 3 for its departure from realism (part of the task) but still sustained believability and appeal to an audience. The reference gave me a different gravity to work from in the character design, a weight for ‘Cernunnus’ that’s not like earth.
(above) GIF of Koko the Clown from the ‘St James’ Infirmary’ Scene in “Betty Boop: Snow White”, rotoscoped from the eccentric movement of Cab Calloway.
(above) Concept 3 – the aesthetic of the scene applied heavily to the visual style of my character, contrast of black on white, weight in the lines substituting shade, extenuated curvature, silky appearance, black lifeless eyes, surreal form.
(above, time stamped 4:40-6:00) “Betty Boop: Snow White” (1933) dir. The Fleischer Brothers whom I discovered in reading “The Animator’s Survival Kit” by Richard Williams
and watching “Before Mickey Mouse: A History of American Animation” (link time stamped)
Two planets collided – one hot, one cold – that violently mashed itself together to create one planet, ‘Cernunnus’. Aptly named after the Celtic God of fertility, wealth and wild animals, this planet is teeming with life that breeds with one another autonomously, even with other species that aren’t their own. Sadly, lifespans are short due to this constant turmoil of hot and cold temperatures that consequently kill off the weaker species each time. The animals and plant’s main reason to live is to find mates that will help their young survive the ‘winter’ and ‘summer’ which changes with each eight-year orbit.
We changed the narrative. Not completely, but we discovered plot holes in the interbreeding of all species of animals. Essentially if all animals were to mate, sooner or later there would be one ‘supreme being’, so we went with the idea of an ‘Endling*’ instead (On reflection, I’m aware that this is a life-on-earth based mating concern, but it prevented us from messing around with tens of characters and focus on a single refined character.). Looking back on my last project post I had wanted to delve into the abstract, and creating earth-like morphed animals just was not what I was hoping for my group in our project. Luckily it was also mentioned in class that we need to push ourselves more so the group agreed that our world’s location and character would have to be mental… Yet I still had the personal issue of connection from the audience to worry about in character design. I know the assignment did not say “Build A World for a Film” but this aspect was still in my mind, as mentioned in my first post. Even showing my character concepts to others, they gravitated towards and preferred the robe-wearing-octopus character the most – the one with the most human-like form, and the most polished.
*An endling is an individual that is the last of its species or subspecies. The word originated from the scientific journal ‘Nature’.
To force us to stop being so predictable with our characters we were given a challenge to create a character without a face or limbs. I tried to cheat this by savvy placement of shadows in folds with Concept Three or floating pieces of anti-matter strategically placed to look like eyes in Concept Two. We could create characters without limbs for days but for faces, our eyes naturally search for them, we crave a face to find out how we should feel about a character. I found enjoyment in doing this challenge because it allowed me to think outside of ‘two eyes and a mouth’ but also enabled me to think about my relatable character element in an unusual way without being as obvious with features.
Concept One was an elaboration of the task we did in class in Week Three, not a favorite of my characters but I enjoyed drawing them with different textures illustrated by the movements of line (Concept Two as a dark matter shadow and Concept Three, silky) and this squishy and slimy character was fun to illustrate. It was one of the more earth-like creatures that would have tied in with the original narrative. I also had a predisposition to jelly-like creatures as ironically indestructible and immortal (e.g. jellyfish, octopus) when drawing the character in class, taking into consideration the narrative of survival is where the inspiration came from.
I found it difficult to go outlandish with a group. I feel as though I’m still testing the waters as far as what is acceptable to others, they probably think similar of me. I will need to express a bit more fiercely to let others know I am open to the weird.
During the first class working on this project, I remembered a concept I tried imagining once as a passing thought which was the fourth dimension (I learned through research 4D is not another place but just another type of perception). I brought this up and remembered the tesseract and other 4D shapes to accompany it and we all liked these shapes as the form of our world, instead of a sphere. M.C. Escher comes to mind when we looked at these shapes, but he also apparently came to everyone else’s mind in the class as well, so it’s noted that more original art references are needed.
Visualizing a character in 4D was a struggle. Plus, no faces, no limbs. Reading Charles Hinton’s writing about visualizing the fourth dimension was extremely insightful, he offered examples of what it could look like but we won’t know because we’re 3D cretins. I took some excerpts from his writing and put it the slideshow above and explained it in simpler terms that relate to how I visualized our characters.