John Cheever’s short story “The Swimmer” is an all-time favorite. After seeing the short film of it with Burt Lancaster, I can’t imagine Ned Merrill’s appearance any other way. Even in Michelle Ku’s animated book art version, I see Burt Lancaster’s big grin and its sorrow.
Before seeing Ku’s work, which has planted the urge to seek even more examples of animated book art, I had enjoyed Regan Avery’s The Groton Avery Clan at the CT(un)Bound exhibition in New Haven, Connecticut. The work consists of a handmade book, metallic thread, motor and an Arduino microcontroller. The Avery clan has inhabited the state since the 1600s. Regan Avery’s handmade book is a copy of the family history published over 100 years ago. From it, the name of each descendant of Christopher Avery, the original immigrant, has been excised and the ten thousand names handwritten on miniscule scraps of yellowed paper that emerge from the book along interconnected threads put into motion by the motor and microcontroller.
When the motor engages, the name slips become “a teeming mass of humanity”.
In 2011, Saara Tuulia posted City and Snow Book on YouTube, which is a simple stop motion animation comparable to Ku’s more complex The Swimmer.
In 2013, Danielle Lathrop posted Book Art, whose stop motion animation highlighted the figurative and origami-based vein of the art form and its practitioners’ obsession with Alice in Wonderland.
More recently, and posted here, another example of animated book art – Giulio Maffei’s series Le Vite dei Libri (The Lives of Books) – demonstrates the increasing engagement and sophistication in this variant form of book art.
The search is on; “roll camera”.