Materials in Motion is a two year (2017/2018) research project into a possible conservation strategy for Dutch analogue animation artwork from the period 1930-2000.
The project is a response to the recent expansion of EYE’s collection of animation artwork due to the adoption of the archives and artwork collection of the Netherlands Institute for Animation Film, which had to close its doors in 2013. EYE is now the custodian of a large variety of materials used in the production process of animated films, such as concept art, storyboards, drawings and cels (image on transparent plastic foils). The purpose of this project is to gain insight into the magnitude, composition and condition of the collection in order to develop a preservation plan for this unique Dutch film heritage. During the research project, EYE plans to collaborate and forge relationships with several international film archives and research institutes that deal with similar conservation issues.
EYE holds an artwork collection of more than 50 different Dutch filmmakers: individual artists like Karin Wiertz, Jacques Verbeek, Børge Ring and Gerrit van Dijk as well as animation studios like Toonder Studios or Joop Geesink’s Dollywood. In their films, artists often play with technique, form and content and experiment with a wide variety of materials such as plastics, paper and photos and artist’s materials such as pencils, crayon, markers and adhesive foils.
The collection includes roughly 80.000 cels. Different forms of decay have been identified: papers are discoloured, layers of paint are flaking and peeling away, old adhesives cause brown stains in papers and photographs and plastic cels begin to warp, lose colour and acidify. Especially the decay of the plastics is worrisome because it is a self-catalytic process: once it starts, it can not be stopped and without intervention the process will accelerate.
Project managers are paper conservation specialist Aafke Weller and animation specialist Mette Peters. The project is funded by Metamorfoze, the Netherlands’ national programme for the preservation of paper heritage.
Aafke Weller worked as a visual artist before she started an MA in conservation of modern and contemporary art at the University of Amsterdam. She soon switched to paper conservation with a special interest in modern materials and techniques on paper.
Mette Peters is a film historian and animation specialist. She engages in conservation issues surrounding Dutch audiovisual heritage, through her publications and cooperations with archives and specialists. She researches the creative practice of animators in the Netherlands during the interwar period at Utrecht University and is a lecturer at the animation course of the Utrecht School of the Arts.