Alison Lucy's Blog


Location 2 – Spruce Goose
November 2, 2009, 15:08
Filed under: Location

Bath’s ‘Spruce Goose’ launderette is quite a change from my first location, Jacob’s Ladder. This interior scene boasts a host of washing machines and large tumble dryers that create an unusual interior environment. I was introduced to this environment through Tor, a fellow student who I have worked with in the first year on animation/film projects. We were both keen to create an animation again this year so after discussion of both of our locations we landed on the possibility that we should team up for the ‘Spruce Goose’ location to tackle an animation together.

A visit to the ‘Spruce Goose’ was all we needed to get going. The whirling sounds of the washing machines and the endless flow of different people arriving, emptying their dirty washing into a machine, waiting, collecting their washing from a machine, transferring their washing into a tumble dryer, and waiting a further period of time gave us a simple but effective narrative to start with. Each new visitor to the ‘Spruce Goose’ launderette was forced into this pre-conceived pattern. Signs are everywhere giving you exact instructions.

I am pleased to tackle this environment as it was only a couple of weeks ago that I had my first ‘launderette’ experience. In my house this year we are lucky enough to have our own washing machine but our house is so cold that there’s no way you can get them dry in time. This called to a trip to my local ‘Dolly Tub’ launderette which is slightly closer than the ‘Spruce Goose’ which is very important when you are carrying two to three loads of wet heavy clothes. As silly as it sounds I was rather nervous at the thought of the launderette, I brought a book along knowing that once my clothes were safely in the tumble dryer that I would have half an hour to kill. KILL. Couldn’t describe it any other way. Because that’s exactly what it is you are doing, KILLING time. You are forced to stay there for the alloted period of time awkwardly perching next to a stranger who seems to find it perfectly acceptable to comment on your dirty clothes items and sound ever so pleased with themselves when they notice before you that you’ve dropped your rather old Spice Girl hanky on the dusty grey floor.

It’s the endless waiting in this somewhat surreal location that Tor and I want to explore through stop-motion animation. There’s a real sense of achievement when the last cycle finally finishes and you can escape to the outside world once more. You make a mental note to yourself to wear your jeans just a few more times to prolong the need to return to the horrors of the ‘Spruce Goose’.

Here are some examples of stop-motion animation with people which has that surreal quality one experiences in the launderette environment.

The way the people in Jan Svankmajer’s animations interact with each other and the environment around them fits perfectly with the strange and wonderful interpretation of ‘Food’ Svankmajer creates in his ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’ and ‘Dinner’ series. I particularly like the way his characters sometimes slide across the floor, simple changes in movement like this keep the audience interested because he’s heightening the relationship between his characters and their environment by surprising us with the way that they interact.

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