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By Toni Booth on

A little bit of history repeating: The ultimate animation collage

Toni Booth takes a first look at the impressive archive of the master of the animation loop, Run Wrake.

Cell of animation - Run Wrake

Like many people familiar with his work, I first became aware of Run Wrake through his 2005 film Rabbit, a tale of greed which managed to turn wholesome 1950s children’s picture book illustrations into something most unsettling.

This work showed many of the key elements of his animation—strong graphic design, objects morphing into other objects, an interest in ‘old stuff’, the influence of other movement pioneers such as the Fleischer Brothers and Edweard Muybridge, and the importance of the synchronisation of music, sound and vision. All of these are expertly put together to produce something very distinctively Run Wrake.

Rabbit was created digitally. However there is a huge body of work which predates Rabbit, where Wrake used traditional animation techniques of drawing, painting and assembling images on acetate.

I am thrilled to say that this museum has recently acquired Run Wrake’s archive, which covers his creative output from his student days until his untimely death aged 49.

Run Wrake was the master of the animated loop, mirroring the repetition of musical rhythm and structures. In fact he was first inspired to move into animation after seeing the video for The Art of Noise track ‘Close to the Edit’.

This is excellently demonstrated in his student film Anyway (1990).

Music was central to much of Wrake’s work: he created videos for Gang of Four, The Charlatans, Manu Chao and Public Image Ltd.  However, his collaborations with Howie B proved the most fruitful.

Cell from the music video for ‘Switch’ by Howie B
Cell from Ping Batter Pong (1998), featuring Meathead, a recurring character first seen in Jukebox.

As you might imagine, the collection is huge, with thousands of individual pieces. We have already had help from Run Wrake’s family, friends and colleagues to begin to put the collection in order. It may take some time, but we will eventually have a fully catalogued, securely stored and publicly accessible archive which will enable everyone to understand and enjoy his craft.

We’ll keep you informed as we delve into the archive.

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