Laws of Motion In a Cartoon Landscape – Andy Holden & Tyler Woolcott 07.07.11

Made it to Andy Holden’s lunch time talk with Tyler Woolcott on the laws that exist in the animated world (part of his “Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time” show at Kettle’s Yard). With examples from Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Wile E Coyote, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Betty Boop, Charlie Brown and Itchy & Scratchy. Cartoon characters are a recurrent theme in Holden’s work, including a series of painted bowls made from melted records with added Charlie Brown faces and cartoon strip clippings called Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will, or a giant boulder like sculpture. The 40 minute presentation discusses rules common within animation, eg. “I. ANY BODY SUSPENDED IN SPACE WILL REMAIN IN SPACE UNTIL MADE AWARE OF ITS SITUATION.” and “VII. CERTAIN BODIES CAN PASS THROUGH SOLID WALLS PAINTED TO RESEMBLE TUNNEL ENTRANCES: OTHERS CANNOT.” The trailer below explains much better:

After my first visit I read the exhibition catalogue, listened to The Grubby Mits and poked about Holden’s website. What appeals to me is his approach of finding a theme or an idea and then building a project around it. The work itself is un-precious, humorous, low-tech, often quite crudely made. He creates very affordable editions and souvenirs, eg. monoprint tea towel. This helps the viewer get closer to the idea and interact more with the work because it is less intimidating. It is inclusive rather than exclusive. The work feels like quick sketchy ‘scamp’ drawings used to explain early ideas in marketing presentations… keep the ideas un-precious and you open a debate… present a precious finished object and the viewer is forced into a “yes” or “no” reaction. The variety of processes really appeals to me too – he’s looking for materials and processes that best communicates the message or idea. That’s not to say that his work is without craft or skill, just that these tools are used only when they are appropriate to a project.

A second visit to the show gave me the opportunity to take a few more photos and notice things missed the first time.