mark li

Self Portrait

self portrait of mark li


Chuck Jones

Video: “The Dot and The Line” by Chuck Jones, 1965.

Through out my boyhood of watching cartoons on TV, I always find myself staring at shows like the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck, without taking much notice to the creators of these incredible animations. The front man behind stage, as it were, is of course Chuck Jones. Besides his impeccable timing for the movements of the characters, what makes Jones an animation Godfather is his sense of storytelling through these moving pictures. He’s able to make you laugh and cry in the same clip, for he understands the logic of tragedy inevitably always turn into comedy (and vise versa). (more…)

Hogarth On The Run

Hogarth is running fast

It took me a while to get the movements just right, but it was worth it. I love all of the antics and the subtle follow through on the arms and legs. Thank you Mike Chavez for the fast run reference

Most of today’s mainstream animations are, for me, disappointing. It’s very common to see animated shows fully blown with lightening speech and outrages jokes, yet something feels wrong with the movements of the characters. Their gestures seem stiff and clumsy. Their bodies are floating through space, limbs hanging like a rag doll. The stories are kept to a minimal for fear that kids might get bored. Just jokes. Back-to-back jokes for the attention deficient generation. Fast and funny is what the audience want, so they give it to them. I don’t over exaggerate.

Animation is a world. A world not belonging to the one we currently dwell in. It’s another world. As a kid growing up watching animation in the 1990s, it provided magic to an otherwise mundane, dreary universe. As science dominated the ideological field of the social space (ideology in the Marxist sense of the word), the protection of miraculous magic seemed to have vanished. There was not even room for superstition. However, animation (good animation) lit up the world for me. It enveloped me in hope.

Good animation for me is never just jokes or how fast can one say the jokes. It’s the story that opens me up to believe in the world that the animation has created. And when I think of a good story in American animation, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant always comes to mind. Is not the movie ultimately about an innocent boy trying to protect himself from the fraudulent passage of growing up? Was not the giant robot a sort of guardian angel we all long for, indestructible and childlike? It is a film that offers a well-wished promise in regard to the world. The film gave me a sense of wonder without the horrific abyss that’s so well recorded in science. It completed a world for me.

What we need today is not merely frantic distractions. What we need is a new narrative that offers us protection once again. We need a new Iron Giant.

Dr. Caligari

Helloooo people of tomorrow. I’m sorry for my absence. I’ve been trying to un-digitize myself. I’ve been struggling with writing some short stories these past months. The work is tedious, and writing is a dark universe. I had to step away from the digital cloud for a while.

More than ever today we’re experiencing a narrative deficiency. It’s so fashionable to say that today we don’t have just one narrative, that we have multiple ones, of which each one has its own unique place in the world. We are all, so it goes, just stories that we tell ourselves, that each of us can have a little piece of the universe. But what if this is the wrong way to approach the problem of multiplicity (or multiple narratives)–whether it be the multiplicity of political parties or the multiplicity of races. What if instead of saying that you have you’re culture, and we have ours; what we should say is that we need a new grand narrative?

The other day I was re-watching “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” the 1920 Robert Wiene horror film. It’s about the story of a Dr. Caligari using a somnambulist as a instrument of murder. But the films twist is that the entire incident was merely the hallucination of Francis, the protagonist, who is finally reveal twards the end that he’s a patience of the asylum. The film was made during the Weimar Republic, the short Democratic-trauma of the WWI aftermath of Germany. What if we’re in the same situation today?


What if we live in one big insane asylum, and all of our contingent experiences are just a mere hallucination? I think this is the horror we are facing with today: to discover that our so called “permissive-liberating society” is actually a hox, a hallucinatory ideology. We live in a era of inconsistencies, of what Peter Sloterdiyk calls sphere implosion. It is when the protective dimension of our grand narrative breaks down. At the level of personal freedom, we seem to have limitless possibilities (we can read anything we want, we can travel anywhere we like, we can have as many sexual partners as we desire, etc.), but on the level of political freedom we’re more and more constrain in a straitjacket, as if changing any small parts of the political-economic system will result in a domino effect towards disaster (e.g. universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, etc.). I think this so call “liberal-permissive society” is deeply ideological, in the Marxian sense of the word (i.e. ideology as a essential illusion that mystifies a certain problem). While, yes, we have freedom on the person level (and this level is also important), we loose the fundamental choice of the frame work that determines these personal choices. As Jane at the end of the film says, ” we queens…are not permitted to follow the dictates of our hearts.” Do we not live in an age of disheartened individualism?

Just Some Thoughts…

People of tomorrow and yesterday. Change, rapid change is in the air; there’s no denying it. I feel your anxiety because I’m there along with you. I feel your impatience because I also want things to speed though. But, now more than ever, we need to be patient, and think. Don’t yet act, think. If we act too soon our decisions are bound to be rash, so we must think. The supreme court’s decision to pass gay marriage is a great sign of acceptance from a cynically repressive society, however, it is also a sign of civil discontent for the lack of social structure. They want to be included and recognized as being part of the social symbolic network. Nobody wants to be outcasts. With the fall of religion, morality is in danger. We simply don’t know what to do anymore. It is the cause of all of the mass shootings by young teenagers. They are confused. My generation is a wondering generation. We are looking for something that’s not yet here. We’re all blind men searching for a glint in the sky. We’re the woman in stilettos trying to run. We’re trying to make the impossible happen. And rest assured miracles do happen, will happen; In time.

Character: Phil

This is the second character from the story. I don’t really know what his personality is going to be like; I’m trying to figure that out in the storyboards right now. I love how organic the storyboards are coming out. I have no idea how it’s going to end.

I’ll be posting a few concept paintings soon, so I’ll keep you guys posted.

Phil-character_Mark Li