Friday, February 29, 2008

a game with arms

so i have this bag of 144 plastic doll arms. they smell terrible. i bought them at st. vinnie’s for $3, along with a bag full of doll heads (mostly generic baby heads, but also some diverse figures like Pinocchio, an elephant head, and a horse head that’s very godfather-meets-bubble). the hands are more interesting to me, though. they’re all lefties, and all identical, except one—there’s one that stands out due to an unusual pink coloration. i’ve decided she’s the leader.

anyway, i haven’t determined what to do with these things yet. i have to decide carefully, because i feel so richly endowed by these doll arm resources, they cannot be put to waste. i thought of attaching them all to my bike—athena, the cruiser, who is not yet very well ornamented compared to my other bikes. i imagined lining them up, tiny plastic fingers pointing to the air, covering the back fender. and one arm sticking out of either handlebar grip, just for balance. that wouldn’t be terribly practical, though; i can’t think of a good way to attach them that they wouldn’t pop off easily. i also thought of stringing them together to make a necklace, like an arm-lei; but i don’t have many clothes that go with doll arm, and it would be too much of a special-occasion sort of accessory. reed suggested attaching them to a hat or helmet, and i love the idea, but before i do anything permanent i think i’ll have some photo fun with them.

i’ve been wanting to make a stop motion short film for some time now. last fall i wanted to go down by the river, after all the leaves dropped, and animate the leaves—have a pile of them morph into the shape of a snake and slither around, back and forth across the path, make it eat its own tail and then disintegrate. but i never had the time or the motivation. not that i have much of either now, but maybe i can get myself to do something with these hands.

i love stop motion, and i’m obsessed with the animation of huge groups of things—like, rather than moving a couple objects around, moving tons of objects around and making them into unified figures. i absolutely adore jan svankmajer’s short films “a game with stones,” and “dimensions of a dialogue”—i wish there was a better copy of “dimensions (part 1)” on youtube, because the one i just linked to doesn’t do it justice. anyway, those are my favorite, but i’ll generally watch anything that’s done in stop motion, because it fucking fascinates me. doll arms are practically the perfect medium to do something crazy and surreal like that.

i’ll probably have to donate some of the arms to performing little shenanigans that very few people would find funny. for instance, painting one with blood-red paint (as though it was severed from a body), attaching it to the end of a helium balloon string, and letting it drift away to find someone (hopefully a child). or carving a hole in the pages of a hardcover book, putting an arm in the hole and leaving it in public for someone to find. or leaving an arm stuck in the handle of someone’s car door. or just leaving a whole pile of arms on the hood of a random person’s car. the more peculiar and meaningless the prank, the more hilarious it becomes.

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