Tatsuyuki Tanaka – Cannabis Works

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(Click all these small images to enlarge them, please….)

Tatsuyuki Tanaka, the animator from 4c Studios whose first major job was key animator on Akira (1988), has a folio of work from his 2003 graphic novel / manga “Cannabis Works” on view at Digik Gallery.

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Aside from enjoying the masterly draughtsmanship evident in all his work, I’m also a great admirer of the subdued colour schemes he employs. They give a sense of otherworldliness that suggests not just another place, but also another time for the events he draws so well.

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This third panel is from a series called “Fifth Dimension” that Pink Tentacle has thoughtfully translated into English.

Truly, gorgeously, bizarre….

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Waiting For The Staff To Turn Up….

A modern building has sprouted up in my town, and while it waits patiently to be occupied by suits, it shimmers quietly in the morning sun looking for all the world like a swimming pool, tinted by the greenish cast of the windows.

I just happened to have my camera with me….

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(Click this picture to make it MUCH bigger!)

If I were the boss of the company who will eventually occupy this space, I’d organise a few days of rollerblading, marbles and ballroom dancing for the staff, before all the office furniture is moved in and transforms this magical looking place into any other boring office.

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(Click it!)

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Art & Design in The British Film #22 George Provis

Continuing a series about Art Directors in the British film industry up to 1948, when the book containing these articles was published.

This chapter deals with George Provis.

After starting work in a solicitor’s office George Provis found that his heart wasn’t in it and so set out to learn architecture and the building trade.

(Please click these small thumbnails to enlarge them)
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Day Break – Gainsborough Productions 1948.

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Day Break – Gainsborough Productions 1948.

After starting work in a solicitor’s office George Provis found that his heart wasn’t in it and so set out to learn architecture and the building trade.

Carry on reading this post after the fold ->->
Continue reading

Holiday Ideas For All Our Cash Strapped French Readers

Mon frêre ainé m’a envoyé ces images…
Exotic location #1

Exotic location #2

Exotic location #3

Exotic location #4

Il dit: “…en cette période de crise, si on peut se permettre un petit voyage ……
Profitons – en….;-)

Ses coordonnées:

Translations: http://www.proz.com/profile/108604
Paintings: http://improvise.free.fr/gallery/gallery.html
Compositions: http://members.sibeliusmusic.com/paulhirsh
Panpipe videos: http://improvise.free.fr/video.htm
Blog: http://houdiniinthedesert.blogspot.com/

Bonne Année, Paul, et merçi!

Wall To Wall Wallpaper

If there’s any truth in the slugline of this blog: “The Art that feeds animation“, then I think these images of historic wallpapers are excellent examples of the aesthetic river that has flowed uninterrupted into the deep pool of animation art.

Paper Panoramas

This post focuses on a small but important product of the wallpaper industry in France from just before the beginning of the 18th Century. Shortly after the French revolution (1789) when a new monied bourgeoisie emerged, the wallpaper industry began to offer some novel wall coverings that were an immense change from the simple repeat pattern papers that their customers were used to.

Their inspiration is believed to have been the large painted Chinese screens that were beginning to be imported into Europe.

The art form that arose from this combination of cultural influence, an emerging market and a new mass production attitude to traditional art, was the panoramic wallpaper. It provided an (almost) instant gigantic 360 degree mural painting of endless exotic vistas. It was a sensation.

The panoramics formed only a small percentage of the wallpaper factories output, but they upheld the brand values of the time, much as couture fashion collections drive the sales of ready to wear clothes in the high street today.

They were far too expensive for the common man, and they required some novel manufacturing techniques to produce them profitably.

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(Click these images to enlarge them, as usual)
This section of a panoramic is from a huge set called “Eldorado” that was designed by Eugéne Ehrmann, Georges Zipélius and Joseph Fuchs for the Zuber company of Rixheim, Alsace, France, in 1849.

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The pictures below will give you an idea of the scale of these mural size wallpapers, even though they have been insensitively butchered cropped to fit the low ceiling of this room in a house in Birmingham, Alabama. (USA)

If you have the money, you can still buy these panels from Zuber, the original manufacturer, and still in business. Prices start at around 30,000 dollars.

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Compare the photo below with the printed image at the top of this post –

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Several technologies have contributed to the manufacture of wallpaper. The earliest technique1 was to print with inked wooden blocks using a simple registration system to apply the colours accurately in a repeatable way.

The woodblock printing process is very labour intensive.

It starts with the designer producing a full size painting. The painting is transferred bit by bit onto pear wood faced wooden blocks. Each block must be carved so as to transfer a different area of colour. The 1000 or more blocks needed for just one scenic could take 20 engravers close to a year to complete.

The softly gradated skies were painted by hand using large blender brushes.

Given that the number of wooden blocks was large, and that they needed to be applied with exactly the right colours and strictly in the correct sequence, it was small wonder that some of the printers went mad. A dozen copies of a popular panoramic would take up to a year to print.

More pictures:

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The Japanese Garden, designed by Victor Potterlet in 1861

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Hindustan, designed by Antoine Pierre Mongin in 1807

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Isola Bella, by Eugéne Ehrmann, Georges Zipélius and Joseph Fuchs.

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Isola Bella, by Eugéne Ehrmann, Georges Zipélius and Joseph Fuchs.

You can see some ingenious cheats in this sample, used to try and reduce the amount of labour involved in producing these huge handmade prints. Have a look for all the clever repeats in this conservatory window below, and how they have been integrated into the unrepeated elements.

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Consevatory Window, printed by the Jules Desfosse company.

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Trompe L’oeuil Ceiling, by Zuber
This cunning design could be extended with sideways insert panels to achieve a race track plan.

These last two pictures are from a panoramic by the Zuber company, called “Views of Brazil”. Design by Jean Julien Deltil in 1828

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The caption reads “The Virgin Forests” and shows indigenous naked rainforest people engaged in hunting pursuits.

This last picture below uncannily prophesies the later arrival of Northern farmers who want to cut down the rainforest and introduce cattle for the lucrative burger trade. 2 You can see the cattle eagerly rushing in from the left.

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If you take the time to feast your eyes on these wonderful pictures, you’ll soon recognise similar elements shared by these decorative printed panels and the scenic compositions that typify the backgrounds seen in animated feature films.

  • Stereotyping of locations
  • Simplified colour schemes
  • Bold shapes
  • High chromatic content
  • No obvious focus point

In their time, these panoramas were all enveloping in their sensual richness and highly exotic too. They fed into people’s desire for the mysterious and the fantastic; just like cinema, really.

In fact, I believe that it’s the very cinematic quality of these panning printed landscapes that so strongly appealed to my animation eye.

I’d contend that these 18th and 19th century artefacts qualify as clear cut precursors to the dominant 20th century animation aesthetic. I’ll try and pull up a few examples and show them here. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment box.

Links:
The Wallpaper Museum.
Massive list of historical wallpaper info. (Take a reel of cotton with you!)
Zuber.
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Footnotes for this post:____________________________________
  1. From around 1740. []
  2. Just kidding! []
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