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Show and Tell: No Arks (1969)
Introduction Art English History    
image from No Arks (1969)

No Arks has a simple visual style, employing clean lines, a limited palette of block colours as well as silhouetted shapes. But before looking at this in any depth, why not ask Art students to imagine the visual style of the film based on hearing the soundtrack on its own. What kind of animation do they think the director might have used to support the tone and message of the film and why?

After watching the film, and comparing its style to their own expectations, why not use the film to explore how visual language can create meaning, focusing on the scenes in which the flying birds transform into planes. Using a series of frame-grabs from the film, discuss how the animator has used shape, movement and colour, before challenging students to sketch some of their own ideas in which one object is transformed into something different.

Alternatively, the film offers a way-in to an in-depth analysis of different animated styles - from early examples of the work of renowned animators such as Len Lye and Norman McLaren to the more well-known titles such as The Snowman (1982). A broad selection of animated films can be found in Screenonline's Animation collection.

As students browse through a range of examples, ask them to focus their thinking by comparing the different styles in terms of colour, composition, shape, movement, characterisation etc... The analysis accompanying each title will also help to develop their knowledge of various animation techniques. Ask students to consider the impact of these diverse techniques (such as 'stop-frame' or 'pixilation' in the case of Manipulation (1991) or Len Lye's method of painting directly onto film in A Colour Box (1935)) on style - looking at everything from depth and dimension to movement and detail. As an example of the innovation in animation, students may find Soho Square (1992) particularly interesting.

It might also be interesting to explore the relationship between narrative and style. Avant-garde and abstract animations are often seen as having more in common with 'art' than with film. But at the same time, many of the most innovative animators have chosen to create traditionally narrative works - for example, Aardam Animations' Wallace and Gromit. Ask students to plot the films/extracts they watch along two axis - with the opposite points of Narrative/Abstract and Innovation/Tradition.

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