(( up until two months ago, id never heard of him, i kind of stumbled across him accidently because a couple of months ago on channell 4 there was a program called animat tv which i missed, but rik recorded it and the next day brought it in and said, you gotta hav a look at this, i watched about 4 or 5 minutes of the program and it took me straight to tal and within about 30 seconds of watching it, i was hooked on it, because i like absract animation, abstract film, so i wtched it and i immediatly emailed him, went on his website and even said id seen his work on tv, and i said, would he like to come up and give us a talk to you, and within the time, i didnt really expect a responce, i expected him to be a very busy chap cos hed been all over the world, and why should he come up here, and within a few hours hed emailed back and said id love to come up to stockport and talk to your students. ))
i was thinking for a bit about how to construct this lecture, and got talking to people and thought the best way would be to show you what id been doing within the last 4 years. i guess from a similar stage you are at, it was on a graphic design desgree, similar to your own, where i started this work and it was at the end of that degree, from the beginning to where i am now, and there are different projects that happened since then, how your language, which i would hope is independant of the projects that you get, how your personal feelings and language develops through these almost consequential things on the way. you get oportunities and you grab them, and you change through that.
i was a graphic design student, doing compositions and posters, and magazine design and felt, after about 3 years that i had had enough for rhythm or movement and i wanted to explore that a bit further. you get to the ends of these degrees and you feel what is it that i want to do? what is it that i want to explore? and i felt at that time, that i want to take all kinds of things that ive learnt in graphic design and translate them to movement on screen, whether it is composition or sequence.
if you think about it, a newspaper, or if your designing for a magazine, its going to flow, what happens when you turn a page, and in this thing, you turn a page, 25 times every second, and you begin to think about what is a flow???
in the year of my MA, in moving image - doppelganger. s east london. re developed area called docklands, and there is a tiny lego like train that goes around docklands, and i left this camera in the front seat while it went round, this was for me my starting point i felt i thought that i had an idea, it had a strating point a beginning middle and end, i look at it now, and i think i was learrning, and while your going through this, you teach yourself, and you find your own way the more you work on the software, my work is digital and i record things digital by camera, also the exhibitionage is digital, from beginning to end it is a digital process.
BELOW: is the doppleganger video..
moving image translates into possible actions in the world, for me, this idea of working so large and large budgets, the software was huge to strat with as a prospect and I kind of thought i would be dealing with something smaller, but i get to do the filming and the editing and as long as you completely fund it yourself which is not the case in my case, it is about how much your willing to adjust, actually i was very lucky, these two pianist, french pianits probably from the late 50s stumbled across one of my dvd music videos, and asked if i would like to do that sort of stuff to pianist music, by the composer stravinsky, and i didnt know anything about classical music. i was more of a techno background, i thought it may be an interesting project. they wanted to do this new set of products, they were tired of recording pieces that have already been done, they wanted a kind of cd/ dvd combo, which would attract maybe a younger market to the music that they play, it would be different.
the pieces, i was able to create chapters in them. i have one piece 20 mins and another piece of 5 and another of 15 mins.
these were similar to the pieces i created with the trains but in a different way, a level up. if you try to analyse the music there are 2 pianos playing, i used the two screens to make it work, which show the two pianos playing together, but you have to see both sides for it to work.
BELOW: stravinsky- concerto
i probably started going a bit further with the abstraction and the spectrum between you seeing what it is and what you think you see, this went wider and when you see what it is its really a kind of art.
probably not my favourite piece but id like to show it, but it shows a different approach to movement as apposed to what im used to. changing forground and background, alternating, u think its only one frame but theres all sorts of ways to create depth in that flat image. i then did another piece, which was composed based around a series of a few videos, each about a minute long, built together based around buildings, and we deconstructed the buildings in shape and form, all the constructions are based around a silhouette and the building itself.
BELOW: stravinsky - ep
there's a lot of luck within the making of some of my work, having faith and it being the right time for people to see your work, skins started in 2005, nobody new about the sets, nobody new anything, it was a really low budget, and working with the stravinsky stuff, i thought about it being applied with something more commercial. this is the 5 sequence of the first season. the title sequence was about the characters that the people were playing, the beginning is the doppleganger and then it mixes.
BELOW: skins season 1
the title sequence changed depending on the characters or what was going on within the storyline. we decided to keep this different ending going on, a few notes of music and sequence, it was a rebellious idea.
i was then contacted by this big art agency who did this regional sport thing, live performance. again i continued to devolop my visual approach to visualising sound and music, and this is a piece by nan carrow, an american composer, he likes the history of music, and experiments with this, he composed some music for a mechanical piano, so instead of writing, using black dots, holes punched into a roll, which was then fed into the machine. its a longer piece. i worked with a friend called sophie, we decided that there was a crazy piece of music, to work with and we asked the musicians about the various noises and what instruments played these noises, when the instruments changed or stopped to make a kind of analysis of this track.
BELOW: nan Carrow
coming from a graphic design background, your deciding on the system of the videos and music and movement, when we were deciding on it, we had the black and white an then all the elements which made it crazy being in sync with the music.
the second set of skins was more kind of mischievous, more characters, all the title sequence used large typography of the logo and using parts of k's and n's for example, in different places but to still keep it the same but give a completely different feel to it.
BELOW: skins season 2 video
there is a tool we used a lot called grading, something that has to be done right, just slightly changing the colours and tones of the colours, it makes two shots totally different, these are the sort of things you will see in the developing process, there is a new one coming out in january which im working on now. i tried to follow the progression of how the series has followed on from each of the others and keep their similarities when constructing them.
the next one was one of the biggest projects ive accomplished, an amazing thing that happened, with an orchestra in london, which i just finished in april/may it was a pro-creation, the performance was in the opera/ concert, and in order to enable us to create it, we wanted to do a piece of music with visuals, of all the animals which god created, the water, the earth for example, and we decided to do it together. the composer was there writing the music at the same time i was making the visuals, a system of communication and commissioning, a commissioner from europe, a commission from england etc, there were 3 focal people, persons, who organised the money to create this piece, one in london, one in LA and another in Amsterdam. 7 days of creation, which consisted of a 6 screen production, its a narration, its a story. all the visuals for the pieces were from the concert hall, from the one in london the one in LA, i was looking for something to play with, something to abstract, then i created this animation. i think of myself as a sculptor, in motion rather than a painter, i don't do things such as drawing and painting, but i take material, i take footage and mould it into something else.
BELOW: concert hall: 6 screens - in seven days.
having half an hour of visuals to do to music, when the music is playing at the same time, you have to negotiate, "i need a few bits here. i need this to go down, this to go up." its about co-opperation and communication.
then the last video, which brought me here in the first place, called 'without you', i'm not going to review all the details, but channel 4 has this initiative to say that animation can be anything, there is a very wide range of 'what is animation' , and i started from this poem, i chose a part of it, and found an abstract painter, joseph albers, who made lots of shapes and colour, people don't know him as a poet, they know him as a painter, so this was the starting point, i went to heathrow, i was in the cab and i saw this kind of lego construction thing, i found this place, it looked funny and interesting, amazing colours, and this was the centre of london, now i thought 'whats the connection', then someone told me what if you take this radius and draw it circular around so you can see the continuity, and seeing that all these places are in the circle, its not suburbs its not london, its basically a consumer driven area where they sell things, they need to set up the building really fast, some of the desicions are really fast but amazing, i filmed steady shots and its all locked by walking into a number of shops, you make connections between colours and shapes. another thing i was trying to generate was getting away from classical music. i wanted to do something seeing what happens if i don't work with music, leaving the sound on when i do my editing when i'm recording, changing the footage every 5 frames, but what would happen if i do leave it on? so these amazing soundscapes that are integrated into the footage. this is some of my latest work, but the one im most proud of.
BELOW: without you
"its a game. between seeing something really boring when actually there is life inside of it, you try to restore it, that secret life and colours, making it work together." my work has come from doppleganger to this in the last four years.
in the last one you did, didn't the sound you used in the film already did that sound affect how you edit it?
when i was filming, i actually sat and listened, i had already listened to the clips, i had already remebered the sound from recording it, that noise started to develop, i had to find the right interesting noises, compile them together deciding how long i needed them, then building like sections, i had a section of 10 seconds, and another of 17 and deciding what worked together, it was accidental, but there wasn't an obsticles just about whether it worked or not.
in your animation, especially doppleganger there is a lot of negative space especially with the colour, was it natural or artificial in the editing process. there are extreme darks and exteme whites.?
again it was quite accidental, all the diamond shapes, were actually the sreenwipers, if you multiply the triangle shape you get the diamond, its just the multiplaication of shapes, the only things i did change afterwards was just altering the contrast if it needed it.
when you made the piece, with your visuals linked in with the live orchestra, i was wondering whether the conductor had to keep an eye on your visuals to keep in time?
well there were technicalities of that were in order to project the 6 films of .. and on one of the them, i had this mock up of how the piece was going to sound, like an electronic screen then made the movie to it.
you mentioned you came from a background of graphic design and using grid systems, which you then tempered a lot of your work, and set yourself the limitations or perimeteres to work with can you say a little bit of how that helps you create the work?
i think that its more already i have to set myself limitation in photoshope for example creating a doccument that shows a half way and half way for an imaage, but sometimes its less accurate when i hav the images and make the videos, its just a case of sometimes moving it slightly up or down, in the doppleganger, with the circles, it becomes more accurate with the timing of how things are moving.
the carrow piece, it had a look with kandinsky, and the last one, a look of mondrian, i was wondering if you were influenced by modernness or these artists?
i like everything, most of the things i like were done between 1905 and 1935, a lot of the things i aspire to, if you think about, movement in that time, and the terms of modernism being just a think line or a white box, and sometimes i think of the turn of the century, there is so much imagery, its so ornamentel, everything is so complex, everything has a lot of people working on it. kandinsky, yes i was influenced by him, but maybe bauhaus, and again, these things like abstract, early 20th century, you could do a BA in abstract filmmaking, and there were a lot of people doing it. people start experimenting, they were not showing something configurative, they were showing movement, for example, what happens if a small circle becomes big, do you feel scared..?? what do you feel if this circle moves from side to side, do you feel danger?? its much more abstract and much more basic and over-posessed.