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Artist Builds Walkable, Life-Sized Zoetrope Out of Garbage

Animation's humble foundations come alive in animator Kaisa Penttilä's fully recycled installation.
April 12, 2015, 9:00pm

Images courtesy the artist

Inside the glowing halo that is animator Kaisa Penttilä’s Garbage Whirl, a zoetrope comes to life at a dizzying pace. As the viewer spins within walls constructed from repurposed trash, including "an old trolley for a film camera, pieces of a bicycle and some other parts and pieces found in the attic,” according to Penttilä, they watch a tiny cartoon man push a shopping cart in 140 consecutive pictures.

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“Each frame is sewed by hand on a piece of plastic that I had collected before in nature or in the parks as garbage,” Penttilä tells The Creators Project. Her sculpture is part of Animation Crank Handle’s The Amusement Park, a collective effort by a group of her fellow Finnish animators to bring their art beyond the screen through hands-on installations. For this sculpture, her first for The Amusement Park exhibition featured at the Flatpack Film Festival, she encourages her viewers to induce the animation illusion by running past a series of mounted frames. In its full form, Garbage Whirl boasts a sizable circumference—55' around, with a 20' diameter. Penttilä had to engineer the carousel to be both light and malleable as to endure travel and transportation. Eventually, she alighted upon garbage as an kind of readymade medium.

“One thing led to another,” she tells the Creators Project simply. With the image of a children’s carousel in mind, Pentillä began construction, with her discarded material guiding her choices. Its interactive component requires her viewers engage with the “the origin of garbage” though the archetypal image of consumerism: a human with a full shopping cart. “[The animation] could have been anything,” she says. “However, some years earlier I had heard of this enormous plastic whirl in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The plastic area is at least the size of Texas. The thought of endless amounts of plastic in the oceans wouldn´t leave me alone, so it was natural to use it in this installation.”

As Garbage Whirl makes its rounds with The Amusement Park’s eclectic collection of installations, Penttilä continues to animate, working simultaneously on a children’s TV show and an animated short film about immigration. In the future, “if there will be a third animator´s group exhibition,” the artist concedes, “I will probably make a proposal for a new installation. Most likely it would carry on the theme of garbage.”

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