Although the Walt Disney films were part of all our lives growing up they could never be called sexy, they were slick and smart but overly sentimental. Tom and Gerry were sexy and appealed to all ages but the arrival of computers and Pixar’s mother and baby desk lamps short film in the mid-eighties changed the game for ever.
But not everybody needed computers. Outside of Pixar, which became absorbed into Disney, one of the most successful and popular animation studios, Aardman and Nick Park in the UK still used, and uses, the old-fashioned stop-motion technique for their wonderful Wallace and Gromit films. Animation is now big business and there are block-buster movies with Hollywood stars doing the voices and small studios are making brilliant and innovative short films. One of them is based in Utrecht.
Since 2007 the Oscar nominated and Emmy winning Job, Joris & Marieke studio has been producing award winning animation films and this beautifully mounted exhibition gives us an insight into their modus operandi and an overview of their output. Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins and Marieke Blaauw met while students at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the early 2000s and their shared passion for story telling brought them together. Each of their films, often set around one character, has a distinct beginning, middle and end – even if it only runs for a couple of minutes.
There are several zones in the Kunsthal gallery, each dedicated to one of their films. There are story boards, three dimensional models of their characters and props and much more beside. All their films are aesthetically beautifully with tasteful colours and very realistic rendering and lighting which creates a real 3D effect. The talented trio also create the music and sound for their films.
The centre piece of the exhibition is a small cinema/theatre which is showing their latest work, a spectacular animated film the like of which you have probably never seen before. The stage/screen is a six meter square cube into which the film is projected, using video mapping, so you get animated walls and floor which literally creates three dimensions. The characters, being life-size, make you feel really involved in the action almost wanting to get off your seat and join in. The story is of a guy who discovers the ephemeral nature of social media.
Their short film Kop Op!, which won the prestigious Emmy Kids Award in the category Kids: Animation, has been developed into a Dutch television series of the same name, the first broadcast of which coincides with the opening of the Kunsthal show.
Although, of course, the majority of animation is aimed at and for children, successful animation has no boundaries and will appeal to all. Much of Job, Joris & Marieke’s work, although beautiful to look at and always humorous, often has a darker side. There is a certain black humour to A Still Life of 2014 which was nominated for an Oscar. It follows, from cradle (metaphorically) to grave (literally), a woman in her lonely room dancing to an old 45rpm record. In A Double Life a guy finds himself in competition with his doppelganger, a story which ends in a nasty incident involving a cut-throat razor. I also really liked the up-beat black and white music video Happy Camper – The Daily Drumbeat, also from 2014.
Job, Joris & Marieke, A Triple Life is highly recommended. You will be amazed, intrigued and entertained in equal measure – I certainly was. Michael Hasted 26th February 2022
The exhibition continues at Kunsthal Rotterdam until 8th May and the series Kop Op! will be on NPO Zapp on Sunday mornings starting 27th February and many of Job, Joris & Marieke’s films can be seen online. Numerous related activities will be taking place at Kunsthal during the run of the exhibition.