'Animate Me' is the title of my new short story, commissioned by Animate Projects and PEER for publication alongside four beautiful new films by the artists Savinder Bual, Kota Ezawa, Karolina Glusiec and Margaret Salmon.
These films form the current exhibition at PEER called Out of Site, and they explore different kinds of animation techniques from stop-frame and drawing to computer graphics and photography. Rather than being screened inside PEER's Hoxton Street gallery spaces, the films are being projected from the inside out, onto the gallery's four glass shop windows. Taking advantage of the long winter nights, this is the first time that PEER has presented work to be seen exclusively from the street, with projections from 3pm to 8pm from Wednesday to Saturday every week until 8 March 2014.
Alongside my more traditional literary fiction, novels such as Foxy-T (Faber and Faber), I have been writing short stories about art for a few years now. Perhaps that sounds odd: writing fiction about art. Isn't that (to quote Martin Mull) 'like dancing about architecture'? Well, perhaps, but to be honest I have read more than enough bad and boring, jargon-laden reviews and catalogue essays in and around the art world. Besides, fiction is my first language, so why not use it to talk about art? For me a story allows both for a more subtle engagement with the artwork and the artist, and - most importantly - a more direct and familiar way to talk the reader. In 2012 Forma published Dicky Star and the Garden Rule, my novella inspired by the work of the artists Jane and Louise Wilson that reflected upon the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Right now I'm working on a new project about British performance artist Stuart Brisley, that is supported by Creativeworks London and King's College, London, where I am currently Creative Entrepreneur in Residence.
My new short story for Out of Site focuses on an influential moment in British animation history, an industrialisation of the art school animation scene that was made possible by Disney setting up a studio in Camden Town between 1986-88 to make the then cutting-edge animated feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which provided work and a way-in to the industry for a generation of influential UK animators.
'Animate Me' is told from the perspective of a fictional former wannabe animator who wonders how he could have missed that particular boat: 'Why was I,' he asks himself, 'the only one in the Hawley Arms not wearing a Roger Rabbit UK crew jacket?'
'Animate Me' is a work of fiction, but now that the story is published I have been pleasantly surprised to hear from Stephen Cavalier, author of The World History of Animation, and the 100 Greatest Animated Shorts website and who - as 'a fresh-faced kid' - actually did work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Stephen tells me that my story rings true as 'a well-written document of a specific time and place in UK animation', and he goes on:
"I never wore my Disney jacket in public, never mind in the Hawley Arms! You are right though, embarrassingly lots of people did (although one night me and a mate wore them to the psychedelic nightclub Alice in Wonderland for a laugh!)"
Animate Projects and PEER have asked British graphic designer Joe Ewart - former art director of the NME - to design a pamphlet edition of the story. You can pick up a free copy of Joe's stylish pamphlet at PEER during the exhibition, or download it from my website. You can also read the story online on the Animate Projects website.
Tony White's latest novel is Shackleton's Man Goes South (Science Museum), and he is currently Creative Entrepreneur in Residence at King's College London, funded by Creativeworks London: www.creativeworkslondon.org.uk