Tiny Circus

This guest post is written by Tiny Circus, AiR Camille’s stop-motion animation collective out of Iowa, who will be at The Showroom on September 16 and 17 to put on two full days of FREE stop-motion animation workshops, concluding with a FREE film festival in downtown Spartanburg! More here.

The end of summer is near. That means four years have passed since Tiny Circus was set in motion.

In the beginning a few friends lived in a backyard in Iowa and learned how to create stop-motion animated films together. The next summer, new friends and old began to take the process they were developing of creating and telling stories collaboratively beyond the backyard. The Circus, rolling into cities and towns in an airstream trailer, facilitated the community creation of short films that are alternate “histories” of objects, occurrences, and ideas.

The “histories” are scary, hopeful, whimsical, sad, and funny. How can we reimagine falling? Make a new kind of sense out of adaptation or clocks? The History of War is illustrated with a gang of bees, butterflies, and limited resources. A straight-faced assembly line, after a leap, yields smiles. In Latin “anima” means soul, and the short animations born out of collaboration and fresh thinking often do feel like they offer surprising insights into essential moments and feelings that are difficult to describe in words.

Sometimes instead of a history an animal trap is created. Spring was Octopus trapping season in Grinnell. And this summer in our house, the Circus began to conceive of a cast of animatable circus characters and an ongoing story that could weave in and out of the short films during a show.

Animating an underwater scene in Octopus Trap.

The Circus house, airstream trailer, and ducks on movie night in Grinnell, Iowa.

And now, here in the back alley of the collaborative playland that is Elsewhere, Carlos, Jenn, and I are continuing to make and remake. We are holding all the things we’ve discovered, and learned, and created close in; finishing almost-finished animations (getting our ducks in a row), plotting workshops near and far, and animating our new characters.

Elsewhere residents watching the History of Repetition.

Johanna, Jenn, and Carlos at the start of the Tiny Circus fall tour.

Tiny Circus is a living experiment in what collaborative art-making is, can, and should be, and we can’t wait to make noises with HUB-BUB.

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