TYLER KLEIN LONGMIRE
CAAF Residency @ 4Five, September 2014
Tyler Klein Longmire is an animator, designer, film and theatre maker based in Calgary AB. He is a founding member of Humble Wonder, a multidisciplinary performing arts collective that explores the aesthetic space where the visual arts, technology, intimacy and performance intersect. Recent projects with Humble Wonder include: The Bike Play, a mobile performance set on the bicycle pathways of Calgary (debut Summer 2015); Face of Fear by Exit Strategy, a heavy metal shadow puppet music video; and Peculiar Puppetronic Phenomena, travelling R-rated shadow puppet peep show.
During the day, Tyler works at the Production Coordinator at Quickdraw Animation Society, and teaches animation classes there as well. He just finished his first animated short film, Renderfriends, which will premiere as part of the Calgary film director’s anthology Whatcha Got, Calgary? on September 05, 2014.
Coming from a theatre background, Tyler loves to incorporate his animation practice into live performance, usually through projections and puppetry. As a freelance projection designer, credits include: The Bone House by Marty Chan (upcoming October 2014 at MOTEL); A Spark Extinguished by Steven Evanik (Sage Theatre); Closer by Patrick Marber (Ground Zero Theatre); and i-ROBOT Theatre (Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre).
Tyler most recently completed the SummerWorks Performance Festival’s Leadership Intensive Program in Toronto, a professional development intensive for emerging arts professionals, and in 2013 acted as the Prairie Representative for the Magnetic North Theatre Festival’s Compass Points series for Emerging Artists in Ottawa. He holds a BFA in Theatre, specializing in Directing, from the University of Victoria.
You can check out his portfolio at http://www.tklongmire.com !
I have always loved cartoons. Animation, comics, puppets, graphic novels, you name it. I also love theatre and live performance – plays, dance, opera, performance art, punk rock shows, parades, rituals, and so on. My practice is the attempt to reconcile the two media, to mix them together and create something new. How do you make a live animation? How can live performance be more like a cartoon? What can theatre learn from film and the animated arts, and vice versa? I can’t sing, but I can draw – can I still put on a show? How can my drawings be performative?
Theatre and animation share an imaginative mechanism in our brains. They’re tricks, they are truthful lies, artful illusions that manipulate your perceptions into creating a certain aesthetic experience behind your eyeballs. What you see, unlike in film, is not directly what you are experiencing – both media require a buy-in from the spectator, a certain filling-in of the gaps. I believe this makes these media more powerful: they engage our active imagination, instead of passively like in a live-action film; we project aspects of our own selves onto the actors, the drawn figures and puppets; we become them in our brains while we watch. We can’t help it. There is a big backlash against CGI in blockbuster films now – the animations are too ‘real’, we feel, because we don’t have to fill anything in ourselves. We prefer the old Jurassic Park puppets, the Jim Henson stop-motion and puppetry in Star Wars to the CGI remakes. With film and CGI, there is no room for the viewer to play along. All the imagining is done for us.
I’m still figuring this out. Puppetry in its many forms is the meeting place of live performance and animation, which is why I got into it. Shadow puppetry is closer to animation, with its long history of using a two dimensional screen as the stage – It was animation before film chemistry and the illusion of persistence of vision were discovered, now that I think about it…
I am inspired by pioneering animators like Lotte Reiniger, who used shadow puppet silhouettes in stop-motion films so beautifully; Norman McLaren, whose stop-motion films using paper cut-outs in both traditional and abstract modes I have drooled over many times; contemporary shadow puppeteers like Clea Minaker, Mind of a Snail, and Shary Boyle, who make live shadow animations using overhead projectors and videos, with musicians or in installations, or even in their own live shows; and puppet troupes like the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, whose Famous Puppet Death Scenes got me thinking about puppetry as a serious line of artistic expression in the first place.
With this residency I am developing an animated short, written by my friend Barb Hall, called The Fish and The Bicycle. It’s a 3-minute short about a fish that falls in love with a bicycle, inspired by the Gloria Steinem quote, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle!” Well, maybe they don’t need each other, but they fall in love anyway, and go for bike rides along the beach. The bike gets a lil’ fishbowl for his basket, for his lil’ fishy girlfriend to jump into. It’ll be cute. It’s a love story!
I’m going to SHADOWJAM for the first two weeks: just experiment and try out different techniques, and bring in a few puppeteers I work well with to riff with materials, lights, and shadow. I am keen to keep it in the realm of shadow puppetry and silhouette work, but 3-dimensional shadow puppets, or projecting onto sets, or shooting shadows one frame at a time, are avenues I hope to explore. The second two weeks will be choosing an approach and building, rehearsing, and shooting a preliminary version, and maybe, if it’s more performative in execution than frame-by-frame, a draft performance. We’ll see. I’m stoked to play around in this studio!