THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Millie Young (Thailand)1,2
1 – Mahidol University International College; 2 – Silpakorn University
I animate therefore I am a teacher,I teach therefore I am an illustrator,I illustrate therefore I reflect my environment,In reflecting my environment,I am animated. Millimation’s Animation Workshop started in 1994 Brighton UK creating animation and films by,with and for the community. ‘Tally Bloody ho!’, won the Arts Council 1999 ‘Taped Up’ award. From 2000 she began to research about Thai elephants and mahouts; continuing to revisit and build a reputation as an elephant artist. In 2007 she transferred to live in Thailand. Her MA graduation animation ‘Mere Wife’ was screened at the World Bangkok Film Festival 2008, becoming pivotal to her current animation lecturer position at Mahidol University International College. Her research work has explored various aspects oral history, national identity, Thai animation history and independent animation. Currently Millie is a PhD candidate at Silpakorn University focusing on storytelling in hand drawn animation in the 360º projection paradigm.
The issue of elephants in Thailand are huge – 3-ton elephant in the room huge and complex. The 4000+ year history of man and elephant skews our views until we somehow forget what an elephant is at all. The elephant is the Thai national symbol, there image is everywhere and tourists come specifically to see them. This research aims to explore how using a mixture of conventional narrative theories and strategies with observation, gesture and hand drawing processes in the animation production can add to the creative possibilities in an immersive 360o projection environment. The film concentrates on the ambiguity of our anthropomorphic projection on to the lives of the elephants. Taking a journey from cartoon circus back to their natural form. Animation anthropomorphise so well, as audience’s we delight so much in the portrayal of animals doing human activities, this is the world of Dumbo. To emphasise this, real human circus acts are referenced for the elefunks, subliminally embedding deep in the animation the anthropomorphism. Then as they begin to fail in their tasks, they transform toward being real elephants; now the reference is from footage shot at a zoo showing stereotypical motions; this progresses through to elephants under human control and finally references from free moving elephants. The changes are subtle and demonstrate the differences between captive behaviour and free natural action bringing the audience to their own metamorphosis of thoughts on elephants.
Millie Young (Thailand)