A Cool Thing You Probably Missed: 2 x 4, the 8th Annual Dual Degree Exhibition

The Brown/RISD dual degree exhibit, called 2 x 4 (as in the lumber you buy at Home Depot) was unveiled on January 28 at the Granoff Center. Running through February 12, this year’s exhibition focused “on themes of multiplicity, calculation, and construction and was “inspired by what is elementary, use of materials, process work, manmade versus natural, and collaboration.”

The main exhibition space had more than a few nods to the 2 x 4 theme, with a Bob the Builder themed photo booth, a huge wooden cube built in the center of the room, and small art installation featuring, you guessed it: 2 x 4’s.

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Small tables supplied with index cards and markers offered visitors a chance to participate. Little cards prompted us: draw wood, draw the person next to you, draw your transportation to the wood, draw a compliment. Once finished with your masterpiece, you could hang them up in the cube.

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A Cool Thing You Probably Missed: Wedding bells in the PW Upspace

What is possibly the most romantic place on Earth? Obviously Paris the PW Upspace! Although usually reserved for student produced content such as shows and performance art, this past Sunday, visitors were instead treated to a small wedding ceremony, the brainchild of Charlotte Senders ’18 and Ben Hayslett ’18.

The masterminds behind the wedding: Charlotte Senders '18 and Ben Hayslett '18

The masterminds behind the wedding: Charlotte Senders ’18 and Ben Hayslett ’18

When Senders and Hayslett were offered the space for a Sunday show, they decided that the perfect thing to do would be to hold a wedding, especially since Senders was ordained over the summer. So in an impressive five days, they pulled together the wedding with some help from volunteers. And when the original couple fell through Saturday afternoon, they recruited two of their friends and determined the groomsmen at 1 A.M. Sunday morning.

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The 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows

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The Animation Show of Shows returned to the RISD Auditorium Sunday night for a night of independent award-winning animated shorts. Now in its 17th year, the show is curated by producer Ron Diamond each year and screened at colleges and studios each year to showcase the work of independent animators from around the world. For the first time this year, it will also be screened in theaters across the U.S., thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The theatrical program features “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” (16th) and “Ascension” (15th), films screened in past Shows of Shows. The non-theatrical program features three films instead, “Edmond,” “Yul and the Snake,” and “Sanjay’s Super Team” (though “Sanjay’s Super Team” wasn’t screened at RISD). The screening also included artist bios of the creators behind “Snowfall,” “Stripy,” and “Love in the Time of March Madness.”

Hosted by the RISD FAV (Film/Animation/Video) Department, members of the RISD, Brown, and the Providence community gathered in the RISD Auditorium for a screening of this year’s show. Keep reading for recaps of what we saw — and click the titles for trailers!

The Story of Percival Pilts
Created by Janette Goodley & John Lewis (Australia)

Created in a beautiful pastel miniature stop-motion world, this story follows Percival Pilts, the narrator’s brother, who starts walking as a kid on short tin-can and wooden stilts. Percival’s stilts grow and grow as he gets older until he’s too tall for their family’s house. He takes off to a new town, facing ridicule from the townspeople until they realize the stilt life is the way to go.

Tant de Forets
Created by Geoffrey Godet & Burcu Sankur (France)

This short showed a forest being torn down for paper manufacturing, industry, and urbanization. With sort of a PSA feel, it did not have much of a definitive ending besides just ‘sad,’ though the papercut illustration style and shifts between 2D and 3D perspectives were interesting.

Snowfall
Directed by Conor Whelan (Ireland)

The first part of this short is a pretty generic party scene accompanied by electronic music with a thumping bass, all animated illustration of course. But there are quirks — the people move by morphing in and out of formless shapes across the room. Clips moved quickly through interactions amongst various characters, like from two men talking to a man and woman suspended in air. The subsequent segment profiling the director revealed that he wanted to explore the emotions involved in the rejection of a queer individual by a straight individual in a social setting.

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Unicorns come to the Hay (and to Providence)

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Artist’s research sketch, 1999, from the John Hay exhibit

On Wednesday, the John Hay library hosted a unicorn colloquium (yes, really), with discussion from Brown professors from different departments “engaging in scholarly inquiry into the unicorn legend.” Audience members, including a few people who came wearing fabric plush horns on their heads, enjoyed “unicorn-themed treats” after the event, which marked the opening of the “The Unicorn Found Exhibit” at the John Hay Library.

This exhibit is part of a larger community “interactive art experience” happening through the summer in Providence, titled Unicorns In Residence: Providence, a mysterious series of unicorn-related events and installations that centers around a search for “The Missing Unicorn.”

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Yes, this is a real thing. The search for “The Missing Unicorn” will begin with posters popping up around the city mid-March, which will say that the unicorn was last seen in Providence’s Fargnoli Park. People can call a “Unicorn Hotline” to leave their sightings and tips. The Providence Children’s Museum will host the “Missing Unicorn Wall” and “PlayPhone,” from April 15 to May 15, with an audio component and glitter phone booth. Through the end of the month, the Providence Public Library will host “The Unicorn Stampede,” an art installation of life-size glitter unicorns floating on pink and purple clouds set to music. Galloping life-size unicorn images will appear throughout Providence at the end of the month on the sides of buildings and “other surprise locations.”

The opening colloquium, The Unicorn Found: Science, Literature, and the Arts, featured Brown professors from three departments: Johanna Hanick from the Classics department, Amy Remensnyder from the History department, and Felipe Rojas Silva, from the Archaeology and the Ancient World, Egyptology and Assyriology departments. The three panelists spoke about different aspects of the unicorn in its mythological, symbolic, and narrative significance, approaching the topic from their areas of expertise.

First, Professor Hanick looked at the presence of hybrid creatures and monsters in Greek mythology, focusing in particular on a theme of ‘absence.’ Hanick highlighted Ctesias, a Greek 5th century BC poet, as often cited as the first to have written about a one-horned, unicorn-like animal. Ctesias described:

“There are, in India, certain wild asses which are as large as horses and even larger. Their bodies are white, their heads dark read, and their eyes dark blue. They have a horn in the middle of the forehead that is one cubit in length. [The animals] fight with thrusts of horn; they kick, bite, and strike with wounding force… they cannot be taken alive. The flesh of this animal is so bitter that it is not edible; it is hunted for its horn and its ankle-bone.”

Professor Hanick emphasized that references to an animal that lived in ‘India,’ are some of the only places we can find unicorn-like creatures in Greek literature, as ‘India’ was  somewhere the Greeks saw as exotic and beyond their occupied world. This was because all the mythological monsters, like the Chimera and giant mammals, were written about as in the past, no longer existing in Greece at the time these poets were writing. Hanick suggested that myths of heroes slaying monsters, like Theseus and the Minotaur and Hercules and the Hydra, while also focused on the individual achievements of mortal heroes, as a whole amount to represent a purification of the world, a cleansing, from the “dark and terrifying beginnings” – a way to describe the absence of these creatures from the civilized Greek world.

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Evolution through wind and PVC: Theo Jansen at RISD

Theo Jansen demonstrates his Strandbeests' "water feelers," which respond to moisture by rapidly firing leg pistons.

Theo Jansen demonstrates his Strandbeests’ “water feelers,” which respond to moisture by rapidly firing leg pistons to move in the opposite direction.

Theo Jansen, a Dutch polymath engineer-artist extraordinaire and the father of kinetic, wind-powered “Strandbeests,” came to RISD Friday night to deliver a lecture to a packed auditorium Although not a household name, Jansen is somewhat of a rock star at RISD.

His talk was presented by RISD/Brown STEAM, a group dedicated to promoting cross-disciplinary work between STEM fields and the arts. They demonstrated a five-foot tall cardboard Strandbeest of their own. Collaborative partners included RISD Government Relations and the RISD Programming Board.

Jansen is known for merging physics, engineering, biology, and art in large PVC kinetic animals that walk down the beaches in Holland on their own accord. These beasts move their legs with pneumatic PVC cylinders powered by compressed captured air. They have a purely mechanical nervous system that is able to respond to its environment by changing direction once it detects water or shifty terrain, by anchoring itself into the ground when it senses a storm coming, or by sending smaller “scouts” in front to test the surroundings.

In the talk, Jansen ruminated on the evolution of his career, imagination, and the beasts themselves.

Here are some of the most resonant thoughts Jansen shared Friday night, after the jump.

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16th Annual Animation Show of Shows

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Last night, RISD Auditorium hosted the 16th Annual Animation Show of Shows, curated by Ron Diamond, founder of ACME Filmworks. It was awesome. That’s really the only word for it. And beautiful. And inspiring. And funny. And disturbing. Okay, there are lots of words to describe it, because each of the films was wildly different, both aesthetically and thematically. Here’s what you missed, with videos embedded where I could find them:

CRAC!

This was weird. It was the epic tale of a quaint French-Canadian village where a rocking chair brings a family enormous joy. The animation style resembled a dancing crayon illustration at a master-level (I clearly lack the vocabulary to talk about animation with any authority). Industrialization rears its ugly head and the chair is thrown away as the village becomes a city. It receives a second life as the chair of an art museum security guard. CRAC!, if your curious, is the sound of a tree falling before it becomes a chair.

Feast

Feast will appear before Disney’s new animated feature Big Hero 6. It is the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen in my life. A little puppy who loves food is rescued by a man who also loves food. When the man gets a girlfriend, she forces him to eat healthier. The dog hates healthy food. But when the man and woman break up, the man becomes sad and unhealthy It’s then that the dog must decide if he should let his master be unhealthy so he can eat pizza, or if he should help him get the girl back and risk eating spinach.

Marilyn Myller

This is a surrealist, stop-motion short about a sculptor who plays God. It’s in black and white, but the lighting is unreal. The whole thing is impossible to stop looking at, and the end has a surprise twist that pokes fun at self-important artists.

Me and My Moulton

Oh my god, this might have been my favorite. I have never been so into the way animated trees look. It’s 2D and very simple but the humor is so on point. It’s about a Danish girl who wants her parents to be normal, but they are avant-garde and her dad is the only man in town with a mustache. It’s the epic quest to convince your parents to get you a bike. And it’s so good

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