Vesta Minor crawls with dinosaur life forms, bulbous plants oozing with jelly consistency, fast growing fungi, massive fish with dragonfly wings. You know, just the usual.
Scavengers is the most impressive animation I have come across in a long time. The eight minute clip featuring alien life forms and fantasy landscapes was released this Christmas Eve. The clip immerses viewers into an other-worldly (heh, literally) experience and introduces an entire cast of 2D and 3D animators.
Although many artists worked on the animation for Scavengers, at the core it remains the brainchild of Charles Huetter and Joseph Bennet. The two wrote, directed, animated, and created background art for the piece.
My favorite scene (2:00): a mushy yellowish egg is slit open. The severed egg reveals a plush, fleshy blue interior. Nestled inside a crevice of the lush aqua womb lies a naked alien form in fetal position. He awakens, blinks, stares. He climbs out of his nest and navigates the slippery surface. His body begins to shrivel and wither as he ages. He tugs on a few juicy levers, sighs, hoists his fragile body back into a crevice, shuts his eyes. End scene.
The Vesta explorers’ mission is never resolved in the film. The animation closes with a sudden shift to a city scene brimming with pigeons, construction workers, old men milling about, a hipster on a bike, dogs on their daily walks, baby strollers.
Although I am unsure of what the purpose for this sudden shift really was, I can sure speak to how I interpreted this. After being immersed in the strange wonders of the planet writhing with inexplicable organisms, the abrupt cut to the “real world” allowed me to contemplate how very peculiar life on our own planet is.
This makes me think of a scene from the movie Boyhood when Mason asks his father
“Dad- There is no, like, real magic in the world, right?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, like, elves and stuff. People just made that up.”
“Well I don’t know. I mean what makes you think that something like elves are more magical than like, like, a whale? You know what I mean? I mean, what if I told you a story about how underneath the ocean there was this giant sea mammal that used sonar and sang songs and it was so big that its heart was the size of a car and you could crawl through the arteries? I mean, you’d think that’s pretty magical right?”
“Yeah. But like, right this second, there’s no, like, elves in the world right?”
“No. Technically, no elves.”
Charles Huetter’s vimeo brims with his personal projects. I join others in finding that his animation resembles that in Adventure Time or the Amazing World of Gumball. I find this especially true for Tonk’s Island, in which he designed all of the backgrounds.
His first LNWC film, The Jump (2013) is probably my favorite of his clips. One of his clips, Every Night, strikes me as similar to work done by animator Joseph Bennet. The hairy creature teetering on gangling legs in a dark forest both repulses me and draws me in. It’s an awkward limbo position between fear and curiosity of the animal.
Bennet’s vimeo clips are consistently more disturbing, uncomfortable, and twisted that Huetter’s. Donna features a (demented) older woman disrupting and abusing animals while cheerfully chattering about nothingness and giggling right along.
A chubby boy shoots down a sparrow in taKE ME TO THE OTher side. The sparrow proceeds to compliment the human on his aim, chirp a little song, excrete waste, and laugh manically.
Anonymous Mortician begins with an yellow-toothed balding man assuring viewers “I’m not a necrophiliac, is that okay?” Totally normal disclaimer to make before launching into a story. Not concerning at all.
Bedtime Stories with Abraham Willosby Episode I and II hold an unsettling quality as a wealthy elderly fellow shares “bedtime” stories of betrayal and death without resolution, after which he enjoys a hearty laugh.
Generally, I enjoy short films created by multiple animators more than individual clips. I find that the stories serve a purpose beyond crafting a surreal experience that unsettles viewers, as seems to be the point in much of Bennet’s solo work.
Short animation films are definitely underrated. They have a certain punch that a two hour movie could never quite possess. Perhaps its the pressure to emit a meaningful message under a time crunch. Maybe short animation films place the aesthetic quality of picture on equal footing with the plot. Whatever it is, I like it and I wish more of it was readily available and circulated.