Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘movement’

Exercise in anthropomorphism

November 8, 2012


As a continuation of yesterday’s post about anthropomorphism and puppetry, here is an exercise in interpreting nature. The leaves were filmed from my balcony in Turku (Finland) yesterday lunchtime.

The best is to first watch and see what occurs to you. The imagination works better without being told what to do.

And if you would then like to analyse the “performance”, here some focuses that may be useful for puppeteers:

  • Watching the leaves as a group or following an individual leaf gives different information.
  • How does the wind cause the leaves to move and how does their shape affect the movement?
  • Interpret the leaves imaginatively: find atmospheres, characters, stories, feelings.
  • What creates these impressions? What role do rhythm and space play?
  • What attracts your attention?  Why?
  • How could you re-create one movement or the whole atmosphere as live puppetry animation? (not necessarily with wind and leaves).

Please feel free to comment or share what you see in the leaves.

Anthropomorphism and puppetry

November 7, 2012


This morning I encountered a seductive blinking light at some roadworks … hmm, what is it that made that light so flirtatious?

Anthropomorphism is a dirty word in some puppetry circles because it is considered that humanising an object limits it, a puppet is more than an imitation human being.  And I agree whole-heartedly but it all depends on what you understand by anthropomorphising and how you use it.

To me, anthropomorphising doesn’t necessarily mean giving objects a head, eyes, arms and legs or making puppets gesticulate like a person.  If I see a car going by and imagine it to be sneaky, it is not gesturing but is probably moving in a stealthy rhythm.

Which reminds me of three cars I saw driving along the river bank.  Their steady speed made them “determined” and “concentrated” and the even distance between them made them a team.  They were three agents on an important mission.

I believe that exercising our anthropomorphic sensibilities teaches us a lot about expressive movement and actually helps to not over-humanise puppets.  

By playfully interpreting our surroundings in emotional terms we become familiar with how form, rhythm, space, grouping, colour and texture communicate and we gain more tools for bringing objects to life, even the human-looking ones with head, arms and legs.

And next time we turn a piece of paper into a puppet we won’t feel obliged to twist a head and arms into it to make it seductive.  Now what was it again that made that light so flirtatious?

Animating Altered Realities

November 4, 2012


These video clips are from a course on Objects For Actors that I recently taught at the Kultuuriakadeemia, Viljandi, Estonia.

This session explored how to stage altered realities – wind, water and low gravity – by animating props.  The task involved analysing how materials are affected by natural forces and re-creating the movement through object manipulation.

In the discussion afterwards one of the actors said “so to be a puppeteer you need to know the laws of physics”.  It was a bit shocking to hear the word “physics” linked to puppetry – it makes me think of science labs and numerical equations – but then I realised he meant the same as what I call the “laws of nature”.

Bringing objects and puppets to life involves knowing how things move.  It means being able to show the difference between floating in the air or floating underwater or floating on the water.  Four sticks can become a cat, a dog or a horse just by changing the rhythm of how they walk.  Change the rhythm again and the sticks may be curious, proud or depressed.

To understand what makes wind wind, water water and a cat a cat we eventually arrive at the essences of movement and the effects of impulse, weight, force, flow, resistance …

All movement is governed by these natural laws but fortunately we don’t need to know any physics before becoming a puppeteer.  We can learn it from observing falling leaves and watching a beer bottle floating down the river.