The exhibition Design and Transformation. Stories of Czech Design 1990-2020, held on the occasion of the Czech Presidency of the EU Council in Brussels, has included another Czech phenomenon in its exhibition, namely animation. The exhibition features several short films that playfully and originally present the production process and history of selected companies through animation and real footage.
A team of young artists from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU), led by Michaela Režová from the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague, worked on the collection of films, which can be seen both at Design Museum Brussels and Prague House. The animated documentaries were created especially for the occasion of the exhibition, and the film crews had the opportunity to directly shoot the production process in, for example, Bomma and Lasvit glassworks, Průša Research, TON or into the heart of the Textile Mountain project. In the case of Škoda Auto, they focused more on brand development. For the animation, they chose materials typical of the company's production, such as glass, wood, and textiles. The films are mainly an impression and outline of the story, vision, and history of the brand. Each of these new original works was realized by a different director. The unifying element is the work of cinematographer David Tichacek, dramaturgy and editing by Lukáš Janičík, sound by Miroslav Chaloupka, and artistic direction by Michaela Režová.
This animated documentary combines the seemingly incompatible genres of documentary and animation, proving they work well together. It had its boom at the beginning of the 21st century. "The so-called animated documentary (anidoc) does not pretend to be reality. It is an acknowledged interpretation of it, which can make it impress the audience more strongly or present the subject in a unique, specific way. Thanks to the anidoc we can transport ourselves in time and space, and visit the minds of other people. Animation can evoke the otherwise unseen and uncaptured, or even substitute for missing material. The genre still has great potential for development, for example in digital storytelling, interactivity, games, and virtual reality. Animated intimate confessions, interviews, or forgotten stories from Czechoslovak history have gradually started to appear in the Czech environment as well," adds Michaela Režová.
The exhibition Design and Transformation. Stories of Czech Design 1990-2020 and the animated documentaries featured in it were created on the occasion of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The entire exhibition project was prepared by the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague (UMPRUM) in cooperation with the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, and other government institutions. Two parts of the exhibition are on display at the Prague House in Brussels and the Design Museum Brussels. Visitors can see the products of major Czech companies and brands collaborating with leading Czech designers. The accompanying programme includes lectures, workshops, and musical performances.
The films combine animation and real footage of the companies' operations. In this way, they not only illustrate the production and history of the companies but also represent an integral part of the exhibition and represent the thriving field of Czech animation. They focus on six companies:
TON (directed by Barbora Halířová)
In Bystřice pod Hostýnem, wood for furniture has been bent since 1861 and every single chair made goes through many pairs of hands before it reaches the arms of a satisfied owner, where it often lasts for generations. The film uses many types of animation such as stop-motion, flat, object, replacement, and 2D digital animation. It uses small models of the No. 14 chairs and scanned originals of the earliest photographs of factory employees.
Bomma (directed by Magdalena Hejzlarová)
Combining the tradition of handmade work with incredible machine precision. The reflection and animation of light play out in the morphology of the BOMMA luminaires. The film works exclusively with the Bomma luminaires themselves and with reflections of light. Everything is created by post-cinematic animation in front of the camera.
Lasvit (directed by Thanh Mai Tranová)
From inspiration to final product. A journey through microcosm and macrocosm, from birth to death. The film reveals the birth of a product from a grain of sand. The film works with time-lapse techniques, animation of real materials under the camera, 3D animation, and glitches.
Textile Mountain (directed by Diana Cam Van Nguyen)
Behind every textile, there is a story and a piece of history. To prevent them from ending up in a landfill or incinerator, Lenka Vackova's Textile Mountain project helps to breathe new life into textiles. The fabrics and beads, all of which come from Textile Mountain, play a significant role in the film. Lenka Vacková provided several archival materials for the film, which came to her attention along with the stories of the fabrics. It was not easy to choose just two examples out of the many that appear in the film. The origins of the fabrics are varied and each deserves to appear in the film.
Škoda Auto (directed by Zdeněk Durdil)
The car is an organism that man creates and nurtures. The machine comes to life and carries its creators through time and around the world in a whirlwind of evolution in forms and morphology. For the film, real cars from the Škoda Museum in Mladá Boleslav (MBX, OHC) were animated; the filmmakers obtained great materials from the Škoda archives.
Prusa 3D (directed by Ondřej Slavík)
A machine that works relentlessly, needs no rest and pushes the boundaries of various disciplines. The 3D printer replicates itself, getting better, more powerful, and more accurate. The film uses prints that were created on PRUSA 3D printers. The film also works with a printer that allows multi-colour printing. The abstract parts of the film consist of, for example, the fills of the prints and their animations.