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weaving in and out of time

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Caroline Huf

Craft ACT Gallery Two: 18 July to 23 August 2008

Text by Jas Hugonnet





Weaving in and out of time - PART 1 unravel, is a dynamic cross media exhibition by Caroline Huf that incorporates objects with stop motion animation. In association with the inaugural VIVID, National Photography Festival, Huf presents work which combines objects with photography. It was the relationship of objects to film stills that first caught my eye when I viewed her work at Kudos Gallery, Sydney in 2005. Huf's animation focuses on the idea of change, the moment when things evolve and morph. Through her frame by frame process she simulates growth and decay as she weaves discarded packaging and models with plasticine. She employs processes that take an incredibly long time and as such the viewer is left in a reflective state aware of the meditative and therapeutic nature of this work.

Weaving in and out of time - PART 1 unravel, is in essence a documentation of the making process where objects are displayed alongside the projected animation as the remnants of this very process. The work evolved over months and effectively grew as time passed. For every second of the animation there are 8 still pictures, which in total is approximately 5 minutes long (this equates to a total of 2,400 stills). When Huf is working fast she can create 3 to 8 seconds a day and so the current incarnation of the work has taken four months. Most of the objects in Huf's films are conceived, grown and then partially destroyed through the process of making.

The animation begins with the sound of the sea as two medication boxes begin to unravel as they are cut up then appear to reweave themselves into a sphere like object. In what appears to be a drifting, unhinged object it then develops into a snail suggesting slowness. The morphing continues as the snail becomes a jellyfish calmly adrift with the potential to sting. The unfolding train of thought that runs through the animation relates to the idea of an entity developing and becoming.

Weaving is the method of making where separate cardboard threads are brought together to make a fabric that interacts with the plasticine. This is all meticulously captured shot by shot to become a living moving and seemingly self determined entity. The objects hung in the gallery have been defined by the time and space in which they were created in the animation and now exist in another state as slightly disheveled leftovers of the animation process. We have witnessed their birth and death in a film that oscillates between fiction and documentary.

Animation could be described as the documentation of change. Huf uses recognisable materials that can be manipulated including recycled packaging and plasticine which are distorted and documented to make her work. Growth and decay are reconstructed in unlikely ways drawing attention to the passing of time and its physical affect on us, the audience, as we devote our time to the work. Huf points out that the work is not character animation but suggests there is a story in the metamorphosis of the materials and in the rhythm of the making akin to the rhythm of the waves in which debris is washed up on the beach.

By using identifiable materials and referencing forms from nature, Huf keeps the focus of the animation on the transformation of objects in our world and our interaction with the environment. Over the last year she has been collecting bits of crabs, parts of shells and rubbish from the beach. These bits of waste coughed up by the sea have resurfaced in the plasticine waves of her work. The debris is revealed, then, like plant cuttings transformed into strange reconstructions that are patched together and given life.

Upon reflection, Huf's animation appears as a metaphor for personal growth and change. In a sense the work tells a story of an unfolding train of thought where intervals of time are manipulated specifically in relation to objects. Her weaving and moulding creates entities suggesting a process involving germination, growth and a morphing towards decay. She aptly suggests that plasticine is akin to the unfettered imagination in the way it can become anything. As she intertwines it with fragments of reality, Huf suggests that imagination and myth can weave in and out of the physical limits of humanity.

Jas Hugonnet
June 2008

Images: Caroline Huf, Unravel, 2008, stills from the short film. Courtesy of the artist.

The project was supported by Regional Arts Development Fund - a Queensland Government and Rockhampton Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture.

Craft ACT is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Government and all state and territory governments, and also gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance it receives from the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian government's arts advisory body. Craft ACT is a member of ACDC, Australian Craft Design Centres.