Monday, February 28, 2011


Several months ago while surfing Xbox Live my husband and I found a free-trial download of a game called "Limbo" that I fell instantly in love with. It's graphics and story are hauntingly beautiful, and since the game industry is a prevalent type of animation in today's world it only makes sense to feature game developers as important contributors in the advancement of animation design.

Now I must be honest, I'm definitely NOT a gamer, however I did grow up with 2 older brothers, so I learned to appreciate well developed games that were entertaining and beautiful to watch. Such titles as: Wing Commander (PC), Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, and Silent Hill kept me wrapped up on the couch in a darkened room absorbed in their worlds of mystery, adventure, and horror for hours. Limbo is one such enrapturing game.

It was developed by Playdead, an independent game company based in Copenhagen, and founded by Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti in 2006. So far it has been nominated for dozens of awards and won several, including the "European Innovation Games Award", and a nomination for the "Best Independent Game". We shall see how they do.

The graphics are simple black and white, with nothing more than a few 2D planes and a 2D silhouette of a young boy who runs and jumps, however the film-noir style and quality in which they are executed is exquisite. Again, it's my love of shadows and forms that allude to more detail than is actually seen that causes my imagination to run wild. Please enjoy the teaser trailer:

Ooooh. From the onset the atmosphere is grim. Eerie fog hangs in the distant background amongst a deep, dark wood which seems to flicker and dance like an old film reel. Think Hansel & Gretel meets Nosferatu. You, a boy, wake up in the middle of the woods with no idea what you're doing or where you're going, but you soon realize the moody landscape is riddled with creatures, traps, and puzzles that must be avoided or solved to advance.

To solve them you die a lot, and in gruesome ways (images of a young boy being sliced into pieces by a saw is something that probably wouldn't fly in the U.S.), but it all adds to the feeling of ever-preset danger and the overwhelming need to press-on and survive.

Apparently it's much shorter than most games--about 4 hours--but for what it lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. Even for those who aren't big into games, you have to admire this one for it's ambiance and stunning visuals. It is truly a unique piece of animated art.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rob France

Two years ago I attended the annual Utah Art's Festival and was delighted to stumble upon the booth of local artist Rob France. It's a little late--I know--to be featuring his work now, but I've always found it to be inspiring, and there's no time like the present to support the locals. :)

I've always been struck by the simple elegance and unique style of France's ink drawings. His subjects are primarily women--bold and beautiful--with sinewy limbs and swan-like necks, who adorn their mannequin physiques with sumptuous, vintage fashions and jewelry. What more could a girl ask for?

At times they have a very "fashion illustration" feel to them, and other times they hold a haunting depth that draws you in to their world.

I wonder if France knowingly draws inspiration from Aubrey Beardsley, whose illustrative temperament seems to perfectly match his own.



Much of his work also draws upon varied cultural influences for inspiration.

The piece below projects an eerie sadness and suffocation, as if the American Indian girl is forcefully confined in a European-style dress.

As our world becomes increasingly homogenized I think France's work is a perfect depiction of what 21st century aesthetics are becoming; a balance of modern and antique, light and dark, ornate and streamline, east and west. We always return to the past, but must infuse it with a new sensibility.

Please enjoy many more of Rob France's talented pieces at his website