Film of the Week :: The Birth of Medusa by Nathaniel Whitcomb (2012)

In last week’s Film of the Week, we saw a stop-motion animation, at the centre of which was a blank page continuously lacking any drawings, despite the peripheral gestures of creativity. This week sees an inversion of that; a page upon which a story unfolds through half-definable video and gorgeously drawn titles.

Note: If the video is too tall for your screen, zoom out using ‘ctrl/cmd’ and the ‘-‘ key.
Nathaniel Whitcomb has hitherto been a montage artist. Creating his works through cut-up pictures from old National Geographic magazines, he re-contextualised┬ánature to purpose his own visual whim, later taking this forward into ‘visual-collage’, where gentle manipulations of motion and opacity would give subtle new life to these images. A defining aspect of Whitcomb’s motion work is the irregular choice of aspect ratios. It really makes sense that, in an age when we consume video more via the internet page than through our TVs, that video can break free of its old plastic borders and take shape to suit its purpose.

In the case of The Birth of Medusa, that purpose is to tell a story as if read from a storybook. With big characters, embellished with detailed pencil drawings, a narrative unfolds, part-science, part-myth. Images of biologically simple lifeforms serve as backdrop to a story implying the consideration of life before ‘consideration’ itself. Having been shot on an iPhone at a local aquarium, I believe this film shows how the most basic footage can be contextualised into beautiful abstract sci-fi.

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