Defying Digital: The Poetics of Pinscreen Animation

Thursday, June 14 at 8 pm

Doors 7:30; $5 admission.

The digital era often neglects rumination. Pinscreen animations allow respite from such fast-paced convenience; it makes use of a perforated frame that holds thousands of pins, which are pushed forward and backward by pressing objects onto the screen. The animation device is lit from the side so that the pins cast shadows, allowing the pinscreen to create indistinct, protuberant, chiaroscuro images. The technique is used to create films with a range of textural effects difficult to achieve with any other animation method, including traditional cel animation. Though few artists have undertaken the task, pinscreen animations betray magic unlike any other.


Here and the Great Elsewhere (dir. Michèle Lemieux, 2012, 15 minutes)                                                                                               This abstract yet compelling philosophical tale uses the pinscreen as a metaphor for the particles that make up the universe. Through 4 tableaux that explore her character’s thoughts, filmmaker Michèle Lemieux takes a look at the profound reflections of this everyman, whose questions are part of humanity’s eternal quest for meaning.

Mindscape (dir. Jacques Drouin, 1976, 7.5 minutes)                                                                                                                                                   A particularly creative example of the pinscreen animation technique, this film portrays an artist who steps inside his painting and wanders about in a landscape peopled with symbols that trigger unexpected associations.

Nightangel (Jacques Drouin, 1986, 19 minutes)                                                                                                                                                             A seamless blend of puppet animation and the pinscreen technique is used in this evocative, romantic story of a man’s obsession with a mysterious and benign spirit. When tragedy befalls him, he finds refuge in the love this nightangle has shown him.

Imprints (dir. Jacques Drouin, 2004, 6 minutes)                                                                                                                                                     In his last animation film, Drouin explores and highlights both sides of the pinscreen. Led by the repeated harmonies of a rondo for harpsichord by François Couperin, the project shows the filmmaker hurling himself into a hand-to-hand tussle with his own favorite instrument. Positioning the camera and lighting to reveal the relief formed by the pins, Drouin continually pivots the screen so that the viewer can glimpse the images hidden behind this mysterious screen.

Organized by Sooean Chin.

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