Tyler Klein Longmire is an animator, designer, and theatre maker based in Calgary, AB. He is the Production Coordinator at the Quickdraw Animation Society, an artist-run centre for independent animators, and is a founding member of the experimental performance collective Humble Wonder. He is currently working on a short animated film called Renderrabbits, an animated portrait of the One Yellow Rabbit performance ensemble, which will debut at the High Performance Rodeo’s 30th Anniversary in 2016. In Summer 2015 Tyler with Humble Wonder will present The Bike Play, a mobile performance where audience and performers alike ride thru the bicycle pathways of Calgary to discover the secrets of a bike gang.
Tyler has recently been lucky enough to have had studio exhibitions / residencies with the Calgary Arts Commons (January – February 2015) and the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation (September 2014). As a theatre artist, as a freelancer or with Humble Wonder, he has worked with organizations such as the High Performance Rodeo, The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Alberta Theatre Projects, Sled Island, Making Treaty 7, TELUS Spark Science Centre, Theatre Junction, Apparition Theatre, Sage Theatre, and Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre. He has illustrated for the Literary Review of Canada, and has animated music videos for Laura Hickli and Exit Strategy.
Tyler holds a BFA in Theatre, specializing in Directing, from the University of Victoria.
I have always loved cartoons. Animation, comics, puppets, graphic novels, you name it. I also love theatre and live performance – plays, dance, opera, performance art, punk rock shows, parades, rituals, and so on. My practice is the attempt to reconcile the two media, to mix them together and create something new. How do you make a live animation? How can live performance be more like a cartoon? What can theatre learn from film and the animated arts, and vice versa? I can’t sing, but I can draw – can I still put on a show? How can my drawings be performative?
Theatre and animation share an imaginative mechanism in our brains. They’re tricks, they are truthful lies, artful illusions that manipulate your perceptions into creating a certain aesthetic experience behind your eyeballs. What you see, unlike in film, is not directly what you are experiencing – both media require a buy-in from the spectator, a certain filling-in of the gaps. I believe this makes these media more powerful: they engage our active imagination, instead of passively like in a live-action film; we project aspects of our own selves onto the actors, the drawn figures and puppets; we become them in our brains while we watch. We can’t help it. There is a big backlash against CGI in blockbuster films now – the animations are too ‘real’, we feel, because we don’t have to fill anything in ourselves. We prefer the old Jurassic Park puppets, the Jim Henson stop-motion and puppetry in Star Wars to the CGI remakes. With film and CGI, there is no room for the viewer to play along. All the imagining is done for us.
I’m still figuring this out. Puppetry in its many forms is the meeting place of live performance and animation, which is why I got into it. Shadow puppetry is closer to animation, with its long history of using a two dimensional screen as the stage – It was animation before film chemistry and the illusion of persistence of vision were discovered, now that I think about it…
I am inspired by pioneering animators like Lotte Reiniger, who used shadow puppet silhouettes in stop-motion films so beautifully; Norman McLaren, whose stop-motion films using paper cut-outs in both traditional and abstract modes I have drooled over many times; contemporary shadow puppeteers like Clea Minaker, Mind of a Snail, and Shary Boyle, who make live shadow animations using overhead projectors and videos, with musicians or in installations, or even in their own live shows; and puppet troupes like the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, whose Famous Puppet Death Scenes got me thinking about puppetry as a serious line of artistic expression in the first place.