by Zeynep Akcay
A woman dances in the dark to transform her body into light and colour. Kam, meaning ‘Shaman’ in old Turkish, is a long-exposure pixilation / 2D animation film expressing the primal, potent energy of the female body. This animated film made in response to the repressive discourses about the female body investigates how two different techniques of animation (namely, long exposure photography of real movements and 2D drawings) can be combined to create a fierce and exuberant dance flow. Kam has screened at numerous international festivals, so far winning two awards (Best Experimental Film at International Women Filmmaker Festival – 2021 and Special Mention at Under the Radar Vienna 2022) You can view a recording of audience responses from Wildsound Festival here.
Background Kam, meaning ‘Shaman’ in old Turkish, is an animated film expressing the primal, potent energy of the female body via long exposure pixilation/2D animation techniques. The film investigates how the improvisation of a dancer can be recorded via long exposure technique and translated into animated film language to create a visceral manifesto.
Contribution The film deconstructs & reconstructs movement using the optics field’s light recording principles. To record light, first photographers had to expose their subjects for a long period of time, creating traces of movement on the frame. This effect was often considered as undesirable. The film consciously uses this artifact to condense the motion of the dancer in individual pictures, which also allows a stream-of-consciousness approach while creating a new dance flow, which is later combined with 2D animations. The primitive drawings on top of long exposure photographs take form of interventions to the narrative, creating a new, more pronounced layer of expression enforcing the rebellious, transformative energy of the female body. With this film, the combination of long exposure pixilation & 2D animation has been explored for the first time to capture and translate a dance performance in animated language.
Significance Kam has been screened in 10 international festivals around the world, and has won 2 major awards: Best Experimental Film at International Women Filmmakers Festival in Izmir, Turkey – 2021 and Special Mention at Under the Radar Vienna in Austria, 2022. It has been also selected to be part of Australian Animation Showcase by ASIFA Australia; touring US and Europe for International Animation Day celebrations. Furthermore, it has been featured in special screenings and panel discussions around the world.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL FROM THE AUTHOR
The film is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike), so it is open to be viewed and downloaded here for sharing alike, remixing and building upon the work in non-commercial settings by attribution. During COVID-19 travel restrictions, one of the festivals recorded audience feedback and shared with the directors. The video can be viewed here. Similarly, I have written an article that discusses the relationship between the aesthetic approach, the political stance and the production methodology of this film, and it was published in an open access journal.
This film, besides being selected and screened in festivals, hence fulfilling the ‘publishing in peer reviewed outlet’ condition for recognition in academia, has been made open to public access via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) license. Similarly, the article that discusses the relationship between the aesthetic approach, the political stance and the production methodology of this film was published in an open access journal. Moreover, I had been interviewed by two colleagues who are authoring a book chapter about feminist animation.
I was lucky to receive some recorded audience responses during COVID-19 period and get feedback from panel discussions that had featured the film, which for me, were good indicators for the work’s impact. In accordance with the CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) license, I have made the movie file available for download, allowing others to remix, tweak and build upon the work non- commercially. If I had not disseminated the film through festivals (during which time I had to limit the access to it as festivals require their programs to be exclusive) I am not sure how and if the audience responses and the derivatives of the work would be accounted in the assessment of the research.
Dr Zeynep Akcay is an animation filmmaker & scholar focusing on experimental aesthetics and narrative strategies of animation in different environments. After performing as an animator and teaching animation in Montreal, Canada, and in Izmir, Turkey, she is currently leading the animating major at Griffith Film School, Brisbane, Australia. Akcay focuses on 2D and 3D character animation, experimental aesthetics and new technologies while engaging in themes pivoting around gender, environment, and displacements.