Compound Eyes of Tropical
A Malay fairy tale tells of Sang Kancil, the wily mouse deer that crosses a river by persuading the crocodiles in it to form a bridge for him. Inspired by this story, Zhang Xu Zhan, one of Taiwan’s most distinguished young artists, in his latest stop-motion animation depicts the crossing of the river as a breakneck shaman dance in the deep jungle where acrobatic skill replaces cunning. Spurred on by drummers on the bank, guided by ringing bells, the costumed creature, half human, half animal, leaps from crocodile back to crocodile back, always in danger of losing more than feathers.
Despite the overwhelming complexity of the animated scenery, the hand-made papier-mâché figures recall the seductive power of traditional Javanese Wayang shadow theatre. Its fixed backdrops are transformed here into an extremely fluid world of continuous transformation and metamorphosis reflected in oddly shaped mirror shards, giving us an idea of what it would be like to see through compound eyes.