Category Archives: Puppets and Performing Objecs

ITP challenge?


So this has been done.     Greg Gage’s Ted Talk is interesting.

I wonder if there is anyone at ITP interested who will consider upping the ante from insect to experimenting with a small mammal (cat or a dog)?   I see this as not only a possible road of exploration post-ITP, but as an inevitable milestone on the way toward a future where society will be able to use those deemed as marginally functional human beings as remotely operated droids.

Like evolution, corruption is a gradual process.   There is a certain irony in that the “youthful blasphemy” of H.G. Wells’s nineteenth-century Dr. Moreau, created the possibility for the twentieth century’s otherwise unimaginable Dr. Mengele.  And in like manner in the second decade of the twenty-first century, what has now become commonplace and taken for granted was once considered horrific, monstrous, and/or obscene.   I’m sure you can think of  a few examples.

What was once in the realm of science-fiction, fantasy, or horror is an inevitability.

Remember what Jean Luc said…

“The Collector” – Bridget Rountree and Ian Gunn’s Animal Cracker Conspiracy performing in New York

Bridget Rountree and Ian Gunn are friends (and puppeteers) from San Diego and are performing at Here. They are willing to do a pre or post show discussion/demo for between five to ten people. Let me know if you are interested so I can set something up.

The Collector short trailer from Animal Cracker Conspiracy on Vimeo.

Animal Cracker Conspiracy Puppet Co.
Bridget Rountree & Iain Gunn
The Collector was made possible by grant funding from The Jim Henson Foundation, The Sator Arts Foundation and The Puffin Foundation

About the show:
The Collector investigates the human desire to surround oneself with objects in order to feel better, more than, loved, and successful. It looks at our ability to follow the rules, play it safe, work for large corporations, and the underlying resentment that is a characteristic of modern society. Recognized as a contemporary puppet theater work, The Collector enfolds the audience in a gritty environment of toy theater, table-top puppetry, animated objects, miniature protagonists and antagonists engaging in dialogue-less mystery, woven together by original film and constructed soundscapes.

Story, Design, Construction, and Performance: Animal Cracker Conspiracy
aka Bridget Rountree and Iain Gunn
Direction: Lisa Berger
Sound Design: Margaret Noble
Animations: Animal Cracker Conspiracy
Animation Assistance: Sierra White
and Ash Brik
Additional Film: Tom Wall
Electrical: Aaron Mahn
Manipulation Coaching: Greg Ballora
and Kristen Charney
Sewing: Randal Sumabat

Animal Cracker Conspiracy Puppet Co.
Bridget Rountree & Iain Gunn

Shadow Puppets – Stephen Kaplin

Stephen Kaplan’s (Great Small Works and Chinese Theater Works) visit was educational and inspiring. His openining lecture on the genesis of puppetry with a focus on the development of shadow puppets helped to place historical and contemporary work within a greater context. The lecture also helped me to better understand the essential role of performative objects as interpretive agents within a narrative. I was also motivated to go to Wikipedia where I read:

” Some scholars trace the origin of puppets to India 4000 years ago, where the main character in Sanskrit plays was known as “Sutradhara”, “the holder of strings”.[11] China has a history of puppetry dating back 2000 years, originally in “pi-ying xi”, the “theatre of the lantern shadows”, or, as it is more commonly known today, Chinese shadow theatre.

Sitting in a classroom in the 21st century, it was Stephen’s passion for the art and craft of shadow puppetry that gave me a better idea as to why the art form developed to begin with. The history and examination of a technology which employs the simplest, most available of tools (light source, shadow-making object, wall or screen) to create time-based media (narrative) is interesting.

That a technology which sources from the caves of Lascaux (or before) has survived along with the discovery and evolution of radio, television, film, video, and the internet is remarkable.

The fact that puppetry (including shadow puppets) continues to act as an viable agent for the transmission of culture in different societies, possesses cross-cultural appeal, and the ability to spark imagination of young and old alike (for the lowest of budgets!) makes this a medium which is worth discovering and re-examining.

Mr. Kaplin’s transition from puppet history, to his professional work in shadow puppetry, and eventually into the hands-on classroom exercise was a seamless and inspiring teaching process.
shadow puppets

Peter Terezakis
ITP, Tisch School of the Arts
New York City

Kitchen Apocalypse

It’s Halloween. Supposed to be scary. It’s a “Kitchen Apocalypse.” Can’t let the proverbial cat out of the bag as to what our show is going to be. Can show you the puppet so far:

I wanted to make his face using the shadow from wire mesh:
The concept worked. Problem is the marionette is walking around and doesn’t have a hard front light on his face or a wall to his back (though he could) when on stage. I had to bow to convention and doll him up a bit, but he still looks scary with his kitchen knife appendages.

Peter Terezakis
ITP, Tisch School of the Arts
New York City

Random Objects 2

I see applications for zoimorphic (“ζωή” Greek for “life/living”)/kinetic objects all around me; especially when it comes to point of sales and advertising. I’m not talking about a wireframe reindeer nodding its head. More than that. In much the same manner that static, non-kinetic works of art really need to be stunning to seize a viewer’s attention, store mannikins and stuffed animals are fundamentally unchanged for the past two thousand years.

There is a tremendous opportunity for technological development in this area. Especially if you study what captures attention and why.

Peter Terezakis
ITP, Tisch School of the Arts
New York City

PAPO class 6: Sculpt and create a zoetrope

Gregory Barsamian
Gregory Barsamian’s career in imagining and constructing animated four-dimensional sculptures continues to awe and influence all who see his work. Gregory is a poet, philosopher, master craftsman, and a consummate artist. We have also been friends since 1992. I’m glad that Ithai was able to get Gregory to visit class and inspire everyone – including me.

Bleecker Bob's 118 West 3rd Street 10012

As usual I strayed from the requirements of the assignment and used a twelve-inch vinyl record for the base of my zoetrope project. I almost couldn’t help it – Bleecker Bob’s is now a few blocks away from where I live. I’ve been buying records from them (on and off) in their current location for nearly… thirty years. While I no longer own a turntable, I can appreciate the great cover art of records – and a perfect base for my project! There is also the fact that they pay $15,000 a month for rent, a pretty irresistible force in a world of mp3 players and clouds.

I had my concept in mind as soon as we were given the assignment. After getting the vinyl base, the next thing I needed to do was to figure out how wide a “slice” I had for each of my sixteen frames.
This meant I had to first calculate the circumference:
C = Π D
Where C = Circumference D = Diameter and Π is 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510 (and so on. But I’m going to use 3.145, eventually.). ” indicates inches

The diameter of my twelve inch LP zoetrope is 12 inches. So:
C = 12 x (3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510) = 37.69911184307752″
C = 12 x 3.1415 which is equal to 37.698″
Circumference of our 12″ disc is = 12 x 3.14 whose value is 37.68″

Calculating the width of each section (segment) is pretty straightforward. Once you know the circumference and the number of images/frames, you can calculate the width of each image/frame. Image width can be determined using the following:

imageWidth = (2)x(Π)x(radius) divided by frames”

imageWidth is defined as the width of each image, radius is the radius of your spinning disc, and frames is the number of frames or stages your animation will contain.

Using the 12″ vinyl record as the spinning disc, the radius is 6″, and we are using sixteen frames. The equation looks like this:

imageWidth = (2 x 3.14 x 6) / 16
imageWidth = (37.68) / 16
imageWidth = 2.355″

The math can be checked by multiplying imageWidth by the number of frames/stages/segments. If our math is correct, 2.355″ x 16 frames should equal the circumference. In fact, this is what we get: 37.68″ (It works!).

To measure the sections in the record I cut a piece of wire a little under 2.4″ and marked a cardboard template accordingly.

Images to help illustrate the process follow. Here’s a link to a video from my iPhone.Zoetrope movie

Meanwhile, grab a turntable, some bits of wire, clay, wood, or whatever you can find, and make your own zoetrope!

Peter Terezakis
ITP, Tisch School of the Arts
New York City

Marionette made from wood

This project was very challenging.  The use of strings moved the puppet away from immediate control and introduced a host of problems.  The biggest issue was (and still is) the tangling of strings.  One of my classmates suggested that shorter was easier to manipulate, which turned out to be very true.  I saw a fallen branch in the park and thought that it would be nice to give it another chance at life as a puppet.

Peter Terezakis
ITP, Tisch School of the Arts
New York City

Stick Puppet

Had the opportunity to examine a stick puppet made by NYC’s Puppet Kitchen at an NYU theater. Expressive and well-crafted it was solid in my hands but not overly heavy. The costume was very well made. While the head was disproportionately larger than the body the appearance was less of caricature and more of character. Also it was the hands that caught my attention more than any other part of the puppet.

Peter Terezakis
ITP, Tisch School of the Arts
New York City