Monday, July 27, 2009

Ryan Larkin's "Walking" (1968)

One of my first exposures to animated film-making as an art form was viewing this film as a 16mm projection in the early 90's. I was impressed by the film's glowing palette, fluid motion, and stream-of-consciousness narrative mode. The idea that animation could be made as an expression of a feeling, or a world view, or even just as an eye-pleasing experience came as a revelation to me at the time.

"Walking" was made by Ryan Larkin at the National Film Board of Canada in 1968, a government agency charged with fostering Canadian screen culture. Part of the Board's charter is to "explore the creative potential of the audio-visual media", a brief which has encouraged the development of experimental animation films.

Having recently graduated from art school, the young Larkin found work at the Film Board. In addition to working on the studio's regular slate of training films and documentaries, Larkin was encouraged to experiment with animation techniques, bringing his artwork to life under the camera.

Larkin says of his process:"I was developing my Oriental brush work with water colours and human figures and the way that anatomy works, expressions of human behaviour, how funny people look sometimes when they're trying to impress each other with certain movements. I had mirrors in my little office and I would go through certain motions with my own body."

"Walking" was Larkin's third project for the Board, following "Cityscape" and "Syrinx". The film earned Larkin critical praise, success at various film festivals, and an Academy Award nomination. Larkin went on to make 'Street Musique" and "Ding Bat Rap" before leaving the studios in 1975. His life and work have been the subject of numerous documentaries and articles, including Chris Landreth's "Ryan".

"Ryan Larkin and the Addictive Nature of illusions", Chris Robinson, Take One magazine, September 01, 2004