Lip Reading with the Brothers Quay

April 6, 2009

On Thursday, April 2, stop-motion animators the Brothers Quay made a rare public appearance at SVA to discuss their work with faculty member Thyrza Goodeve. A crowd of students, faculty members and fans were treated to lively discussion interspersed with screenings of two recent shorts films, In Absentia (2000) and The Phantom Museum (2003), along with a reel of excerpted works and commercials.

Lasting more than two hours, the conversation focused on the Quays’ history, collaborative process and influences. Being careful not to reveal too much, the Quays shrugged off certain questions from the audience, but admitted that many of their films “investigated the pre-history of objects.” They primarily work as a team in their 1,000 square-foot studio, shifting roles between puppet maker, puppeteer, set building, camera man and sound designer. As college students at the Philadelphia College of Art, the brothers studied illustration and “hoped for a successful career as book cover designers.” They explained that they many of their early influences, like Eastern European literature, Polish theater posters and the diaries of Franz Kafka, were stumbled upon by chance.

Part of the Art in the First Person lecture series, the discussion was titled The Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets and was co-presented by the BFA Film, Video and Animation; BFA Fine Arts; BFA Visual and Critical Studies; and MFA Art Criticism and Writing Departments at SVA.

Image: The Brothers Quay, with faculty member Thyrza Goodeve, at the SVA Theater; photo by Kathy Brew.

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