My head is full of ideas, thoughts and excitements. It is simply so hard to choose… from where to start. If you are going to follow this blog you might notice that I don’t have an order. So, given some thought how should I start my blog, I decided to start with recent events. Except that the recent event was 2 months ago.
Better later than never.
Starting on 28 of June, I was fortunate to join Cel del Nord virtual residency (for a week) to fulfill my proposed project. I am not going to lie – this was my first time doing any kind of residency and knowing that this is going to be online meant that I will have to work from home. I thought that it might not make much difference from what I normally do. Well, I didn’t know.
Maybe it was the setting, or the need to impress others, or the amazing residency facilitator Odette, who made it such a great experience. I’ll summarize everything in the end, but first – let’s talk about my discoveries.
As I mentioned above, I didn’t know a thing and all I thought I can do in a week was some regular animation work. I had my ideas and sketches ready. What threw me off was a questionnaire/worksheet I received few days before the residency was supposed to start, which made me realize that I have this week to try something new (?) or push myself do something different than usual. Sure, I am always looking for something; trying new materials and methods, but I never meant to experiment with my foundation. It simply didn’t occur to me… I thought it was good enough and it won’t have any impact if I started things differently. Probably it was just a habit and as long as it worked – it didn’t matter.
For my previous animations, I used to use references such as sketches or photographs of people in public places I don’t know. Sometimes Instagram came in handy. Thank you all, public profiles!
It was always a mystery – I was happy to judge them for their actions and interpret in my ways when making a story. I was thankful for always having something or that I was able just to draw from my head. Just from the memory. Or once in a while acting out in a mirror, though it was always more to understand and learn to draw certain movements.
Whether the lock-down was tough on me or I became more comfortable with my own body, I decided to act out the situations I want to animate. Simple as that, but I never did this before. No, not taking pictures, actually acting out in front of the camera; rolling around the floor like an idiot, repeating until I felt I did a decent acting job. As much as I thought that I was doing to make more quality drawings and give actual features of a person (after not seeing people for a while nothing was coming out of my head), but now I think it was important to feel what is happening. To understand how it can unfold. What needs to follow.
I believe it made the entire process more interesting too. It is one thing to see how it’s done and when trying to copy, to capture (somehow) in the drawing, but the experience was a valid point to refigure my foundation. I have been seeking for flow in my work for such a long time and this is so far the biggest achievement towards that.
I lost count how many time I tried using a background in my work. Animations, to be more precise. Although very minimalistic, but likely animation The Hair has the best working background. It was one of my first (and successful) animations I made, but I later couldn’t come up with anything decent. Everything I ever tried to make and use, was either disturbing or more disturbing. The main subject matter would just dissolve in the background and I decided – not now. Maybe never.
Since I had nothing to lose, I thought let’s play a little with some objects and really simple watercolour sketches. I can’t help myself – I am fighting to bring some colour to my work. My inner painter wants colours, vibrancy and texture. So, my situations were happening in the cube and in a way, the line drawing was my background too. However, I didn’t want it simple, because I wanted overlapping timelines. Meaning. Humour and absurdity.
Since I work mostly with short lopping animations, it made sense to use something. In theory. I know, I might sound picky, but that’s how I work. I search all the time.
For my first day, I got very ambitious and decided to make a full sequence. I had an idea of a person playing video games (or browsing) and the mess appearing behind him. The situation of a person is monotonic and looping, but the background has a different pace.
While this was a test, I was quite happy with an outcome. I drew more elements, yet I lacked time. Perhaps that’s for the best. The animation is still busy, but there is time to understand one timeline (situation) and enough to learn another (consequences).
Overall, I discovered that mixing timelines and their paces give a great result. And I’ve got my background.
I am still working on this project, because I kept coming up with more ideas and situations, that just kept coming along. For quite some time I am interested in letting the work to unfold itself. Once I complete the project, I will drop here a link to see the final outcome!
Summary of the residency
It was quite intensive. While being at home.
I am used to working at home, because I can’t afford a studio and the work I make doesn’t require much space, but this tought me to manage my time, increase my productivity and treat my working hours like I was not home.
Initially, I wanted to finish a few sequences and animation series within a week. The whole experimentation made me realize that I want to work more on this project. Under different circumstances, I would have been disappointed in myself for not completing a project, but I thought I made so much in one week than in the last two years. I was happy what I have discovered and how it changed the entire flow (both in terms of narrative and execution).
The residency itself was well designed; morning readings and meetings, artist talks in the evenings, questionnaires and worksheets to help with a process, individual session with the facilitator, support and time tracking via WhatsApp.
Cel del Nord is a residency outside Barcelona, Spain, but during the quarantine, it went online (for the sake of the arts). Besides online residencies, they are organizing online events, where you can participate in conversations and meet artists from across the world. At the moment, they have an open call for 2 virtual residencies in fall. Check them out and consider staying there once the world reopens!
Read more about Cel del Nord by visiting their website.
Keep an eye for future blog posts how I continued working on this project;)