Twin brothers Stephen and Timothy Quay are known for their entrancing, and sometimes unsettling, stop motion worlds. Their films bring us into hidden spaces, filled with discarded objects and compulsive desire. In addition to their unique puppet design and elegantly articulated movement, the Quays also invest great care in their cinematography. They are unafraid to move the camera or shift focus during animated sequences.
In this video essay, I look at the Quays’ camerawork and how it enhances and extends what’s expressed through the animation.
Many of the photographic gestures we see in shorts like Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies (1987) are also employed in the Quays’ debut feature film, Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life (1995).
Laura Ivins loves stop motion, home movies, imperfect films, nature hikes, and Stephen Crane’s poetry. She has a PhD from Indiana University and an MFA from Boston University. In addition to watching and writing about movies, sometimes she also makes them.