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Keep it in Motion - Classic Animation Revisited: 'Underground'

Every Thursday, Chris Robinson takes a look at films from animation’s past. This week he screens Mati Kütt's Underground (1998)

'Underground' by Mati Kütt

With Underground (1998), Mati Kütt (Button’s Odyssey, Institute of the Dream, Skysong) headed into different technical territory combining his oil paint style with pixilation. In the pixilated scenes, we see a young dancer making a series of ordered, carefully structured movements. But under the three dimensional world inhabited by the dancing girl, perhaps orchestrating her movements, is a two-dimensional world (painted and traditionally animated) of randomness and chaos. “It was an absurd enough approach,” says Kütt, “but something that was necessary to bring out the desired effect.”

Heraclitus’ words immediately come to mind: “The cosmos works of harmony and tensions…  From the strain of binding opposites comes harmony.” The idea that life is a continuous flow is but one of the themes in Underground. There is also that of perception. The two dimensions and their two viewpoints suggest that reality is subjective. One person hears harmony while another hears noise. There is no single eye from which to see, but many, from different perspectives, with different minds, at different times. Nothing is fixed, all is changing.  As Aristotle noted in Poetics, if I see a blanket, maybe I miss the bed, but if I see the bed, I miss the room. Conversely, if I see a room, perhaps I miss the details within. Everything moves; nothing remains the same.

“It’s the tendency,” says Kütt, “that as one becomes more experienced and sees more and grows, that one should be able to make more sweeping generalizations, be able to bring aspects of one’s life and experience together and mix them, come to some conclusions.”

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.