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The Quay Brothers

Into a Metaphysical Playroom

2010
Author:

Suzanne Buchan

The Quay Brothers

The complex, special power of the Quay Brothers’ puppet animation poetics

This work is the first thorough analysis of the creative oeuvre of the Quay Brothers. Known for their animation shorts that rely on puppetry, miniatures, and stop-motion techniques, their fiercely idiosyncratic films are fertile fields for Suzanne Buchan’s engaging descriptions and provocative insights into the Quays’ art—and into the art of independent puppet animation.

Suzanne Buchan’s book offers a welcome introduction to the art of the Brothers Quay, with an emphasis on a detailed reading of their animated film, Street of Crocodiles. The Quay Brothers offers engaging descriptions and thought-provoking insights into the Quays’ art specifically and into the art of animation generally.

Thomas Lamarre, McGill University

This work is the first thorough analysis of the creative oeuvre of the Quay Brothers. Known for their animation shorts that rely on puppetry, miniatures, and stop-motion techniques, their fiercely idiosyncratic films are fertile fields for Suzanne Buchan’s engaging descriptions and provocative insights into the Quays’ art—and into the art of independent puppet animation.

Buchan’s aesthetic investigation stems from extensive access to the Quay Brothers’ artistic practices and work, which spans animation and live-action film, stage design, and illustration. She also draws on a long acquaintance with them and on interviews with collaborators essential to their productions, as well as archival sources. Discussions of their films’ literary origins, space, puppets, montage, and the often-overlooked world of sound and music in animation shed new light on the expressive world that the Quay Brothers generate from their materials to create the poetic alchemy of their films.

At once a biography of the Quays’ artistic trajectory and a detailed examination of one of their best-known films, Street of Crocodiles, this book goes further and provides interdisciplinary methodologies and tools for the analysis of animation.

The Quay Brothers

Suzanne Buchan is professor of animation aesthetics and director of the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts, England. She is the editor of Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

The Quay Brothers

Suzanne Buchan’s book offers a welcome introduction to the art of the Brothers Quay, with an emphasis on a detailed reading of their animated film, Street of Crocodiles. The Quay Brothers offers engaging descriptions and thought-provoking insights into the Quays’ art specifically and into the art of animation generally.

Thomas Lamarre, McGill University

To use the term Buchan cites from Joyce, this is a fascinating transluding of the Quays’ work into prose. Based on several years’ affectionate acquaintance with the pair, The Quay Brothers is entertaining, often innovative, and highly evocative. A great book on the Quays and on the British scene since the 1970s, it also opens up new avenues for animation and film studies.

Sean Cubitt, University of Melbourne

This beautifully produced volume (with a welcome wedge of colour stills, snapshots, sketches and designs) is delightfully conflicted between theory’s unfettered taxonomic impulse and the films themselves, which are (as Buchan notes more than once) uniquely resistant to exegesis of any kind.

Sight & Sound

Suzanne Buchan has crafted a meticulously researched, well-structured, and convincingly argued analysis. However, what truly sets her text apart is its personal, intimate nature. Born out of a long-term interest in and acquaintance with the Quay Brothers, it is at once an elegant and rigorous scholarly discussion and an intimate glimpse into the private poetic universe of the twin filmmakers.

Screening the Past

The Quay Brothers

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Authentic Trappers in Metaphysical Playrooms
2. Palimpsests, Fragments, Vitalist Affinities
3. Traversing the Esophagus
4. Puppets and Metaphysical Machines
5. Negotiating the Labyrinth
6. The Secret Scenario of Soundscapes
7. The Animated Frame and Beyond
8. Animistic Architectures

Notes
Bibliography
Works of the Quay Brothers
Index