Putting the ‘motion’ in emotion
Hannah Montgomery reveals how a curious circus-themed showcase gave her a new perspective on the use of movement in media…
Pride, happiness, excitement… with their powerful visuals, videos have the ability to evoke all kinds of feelings from an attentive viewer. However, I’ve always relished the challenge of telling a story with words.
With my deep-rooted passion for magazines and newspapers, I had remained committed to honing my skills in the area of written content. While understanding the need for visual material, I’d often found myself staying in my comfort zone, focusing purely on print-based projects.
However, my stance on this changed a few months ago, during a casual weekend visit to Bath, when I found myself unexpectedly drawn to an art show taking place at the Victoria Art Gallery. Titled the ‘Sharmanka Travelling Circus’, I was intrigued at the way the promo materials described it as a performance incorporating both art and movement.
As I’d bought my ticket after spontaneously wandering into the building, I had little idea of what to expect. Luckily, as I was one of the first to arrive, I managed to grab a front-row seat, and after a short wait, the show began.
A macabre scene unfolded as the small wooden sculptures before us (made by artist and inventor Eduard Bersudsky) began to move, slowly coming to life one by one. Dramatic lighting that cast sinister shadows over the puppet-esque forms added to the eerie experience, as did the sombre music accompanying the set, which was built using metal scrap and old furniture.
Perhaps what was most unsettling about this 20-minute show was that the little figurines were moving by themselves to create their own sounds; a sculpted ring-master was bobbing up and down to make the chain connected to its slave jangle, and an industrious monkey was repeatedly turning a wheel, causing the bell above to ring out. This gave the handmade creations an almost human quality, especially as they had, for use of no better term, no strings attached!
I left the gallery feeling impressed and inspired. It was interesting to see how movement could be used in a different way, bringing a new dimension to an art form through the clever use of light, sound and imagery. It also made me think again about the use of dynamic media in internal comms.
It was not a digital production per se, but the Sharmanka Travelling Circus was similar to video in that it heavily relied on movement to tell a story. The various elements came together to create a darkly humorous expression of process and pain, and it was the effect of the continual motions and the harsh lighting that really helped create that feeling of unease.
It may have taken a peculiar piece of performing mechanical theatre for me to realise the benefits of mixed media, but I’m grateful to those creepy little carnival characters for opening my eyes to the possibilities of using animated components in communications projects.
Thanks to those wacky wooden creatures, I’ve fully embraced the power of visual comms and have officially jumped on the (circus) bandwagon!