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Arlo Mountford | The Folly 2007-09 | Three-channel digital animation with four-channel audio (uncompressed AVI file and uncompressed WAV file on hard drive): 9:00 minutes, colour, sound | Purchased 2009. The Queensland Government's Queensland Art Gallery Acquisitions Fund | Image courtesy the artist and GRANTPIRRIE

Arlo Mountford on Pieter Bruegel and Flash Animation

Naomi Cass: The Folly is a three-channel digital animation with a four-channel sound mix. Based on three small paintings by sixteenth-century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel The Elder, Hunters in the Snow, The Corn Harvest and The Fall of Icarus, The Folly is monumental in size and enveloping in sound. Much of the pleasure of your work derives from being drawn into ‘the past as a foreign country’ a la L P Hartley, but you have chosen to animate the characters in a particularly contemporary way. What program did you use and why? To what extent were you bound by Bruegel’s language?

Arlo Mountford: I used Adobe Flash for the drawing and animation. As a tool, I find it very intuitive. The work really started as a drawing exercise, I began to draw The Hunters in the Snow as a counter balance to the more conceptual and humorous works I usually work on. There is a conflict of sorts between the original images and my animation of them. When the redrawn images are static they are beautiful but when they move they become crude and simple because they are limited by their two-dimensionality. The audience is reminded of the author and the work becomes about my concept and intentions. To combat this, very few things outside of what I presume to be depicted in the original paintings happen in these animations, the hunters move into frame, the harvesters continue with lunch, the ships continue on their way across the bay… I think the sense of — the past as a foreign country — really originates in Bruegel’s paintings, at least for us today. I think a lot of us grew up with these images or others by him. This nostalgia for a different way of life is what drew me to the images originally and it was important to me that this remained…

Arlo Mountford in conversation with Naomi Cass, ‘Artists as Higher Lifer’ in Flash, Centre for Contemporary Photography, June 2009.

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