Why Phil Tippett’s Mad God is the Antidote to Digital Fatigue

What happens when a special effects genius like Phil Tippett spends 30 years creating his magnum opus and it happens to be a stop-motion animation manifesto? Holy shit!

I have to admit that my brain wasn’t quite ready for this. It’s been a good long time since I’ve watched much stop-motion so it seemed jerky and fake at first, but as I followed the narrative, the uncanny valley effect dissipated and ALL THAT ALL CHANGED!!

Physical animation can be breathtakingly emotive and when done well, has a feel that conveys weight and movement that CGI just cannot achieve. I used to believe that eventually computers would be able to simulate anything with enough processing power and enough human tweaking, but I have come to the conclusion that it’s never going to happen. It won’t. It can’t.

When we interact with the physical world to create art, the physical world interacts back. The laws of physics that our brain intuits with grace and fluidity in observation and anticipation is what makes great art. Not only does the physical world react, but so do the other people and creatures within the space. It all becomes part of the greater collaboration. When you see a live band lock up into a groove and the audience is on that groove-that’s what I’m talking about. It’s how a drum, a guitar string, a voice sync up naturally to ebb and flow together like a flock of birds or a school of fish. That zone is where the real magic lives.

I love computers, but they can’t do that. A simulation is just that, simulated. It’s too perfect, or too flat, or too planned to be that amazing. I’m not saying some great stuff hasn’t been done with computers, sure it has, but it isn’t the same as doing it for real.

Mad God is an experience. It’s like watching the art of Kris Kuksi, a Tool video, the animations from The Wall, and Rankin-Bass imbued into a deranged stepchild that follows Dante through a Hell made from the detritus of pop-culture, orchestrated by a headfuck of counter-intuitive innocent, organic sounds. Plus, there’s tons of nerdy Easter Eggs for genre cinephiles to try to catch in nearly every scene.

Eat some chocolate, watch it, and wake up from the digital doldrums. If you or someone you know is skittish about stop-motion, warm up your imagination by putting down the controllers and watch some old school animation as a first course. I’d suggest a double-header, pairing with Heavy Metal as precoital mind lube.

About Author /

Sunni K Brock writes about music, science, technology, art, food, and pop culture. Her fiction and poetry combine science fiction, horror, fantasy, and sometimes erotica. As one-half of the team of JaSunni Productions, LLC and Cycatrix Press, she creates genre film and printed media with her husband, Jason V Brock. If she had spare time, she would spend it researching genealogy, shopping at the farmer’s market, building tricked-out computers, and conducting experiments on controlled randomness.

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