it has been an entire week and I am here again – rambling about my process and methods. I tried to section my practice and release each blog post with a specific topic (make sense, right?), however I feel that I might mix a little this or that and might repeat myself again in the future. Because, nothing is certain and it is constantly changing, moving, evolving, etc.… Some things just work together and can only exist with one another.
Anyway, this blog post is about unfolding. Unfolding within a process. Unfolding narratives or methodically unfolding in the making. Again, this is not something new I came up with. I believe, I have been following this method for quite a while and before I even knew about it – everything started to make sense. I fully embraced it when I did my MA research paper about Nathalie Djurberg’s work. When I had to do my paper, I wasn’t sure which direction I am going to go, but I was certain that it has to do something about the animation. I jumped back and forward, scanned a lot of ideas: from aesthetics to technology, but all along it was in front of me. Unfolding. Creating a world within a process.
Before I begin explaining what it is and how I use it in my work, I want quickly talk about the mystery artist Nathalie Djurberg. Why mystery? Because she is nowhere to be found. Kidding. Obviously, I’ve seen some of her work live, but most of it is… In interviews or books. Seriously, the girl has no website, no social media account and you never know when her (and her partners Hans Berg) exhibition is coming up. You would think you need to hire a detective, who can update you what she is up to, because her work is simply – amazing. Maybe that is how she markets her work (find me if you can, ha!). For all we know, she is based in Berlin and often represented by Lisson gallery (London). So, why have I mentioned her in this post? Because she taught about unfolding. About creating a narrative as you go. In theory, it works better when you work with stop-motion animation, because you work with already built objects and there is more freedom in the process. In the drawing – it is so much harder just by following. You have to repeat the same figure/object every time. But it’s worth it.
I invite you all to listen to her talking about her works here:
Without her I wouldn’t have known how to explain my process. Without her and William Kentridge (who might be a pioneer in this). Again, you have to watch this. Listen carefully, because it is so hard to quote him… Everything he says – matters and can’t be taken out.
So, I have quickly introduced you to my favourite artists and now I can begin what unfolding means to me and how I use it. In my previous post about Flow and Fluidity I talked about animating methods and how many rules there are and that you shouldn’t break them. There is a system. However, we, artists, can do whatever we want. Or how we can.
Yes, animation came to me when I wanted to make a story and I followed those rules, because it made sense then. If you only have a story and visuals – it is much easier to follow that system of rules and methods. I still once in a while draw storyboards, because this is how I process some of my stories and able to dig deeper. Yet, it is never set in stone. One of the reasons I don’t follow my storyboards anymore, because I get bored. Perhaps it isn’t the nicest thing to say, but art isn’t just about the message, but also about the positive experience. I made a lot of forced works and while some enjoy them, I can’t look at them. All I can see is mistakes and it bothers me a lot. I still make a lot mistakes, but if the process was enjoyable – I see all these flaws complimenting the work. It works. Also, imagine not having an animation training and thinking how you want to animate a specific movement but you have no clue of how to do so. You are trying to figure it out, yet the result is not satisfying… Then I don’t know what is coming, then I let it flow naturally – the result is always surprising. It isn’t as stiff or boring. Not knowing makes me excited. It makes me notice details and realize what is working or not.
‘A world’ that is created should make sense rather than be an instruction what the world means.
Making ‘a world’
Working with narratives sometimes gives me a lot of anxiety. As much as enjoy reflecting or making things up, I feel anxious when it comes to explaining to people. What is it about? What does it mean? What’s the meaning behind? Is it about this or that?
I manage to avoid answering these questions by just telling a story that inspired me. It usually does a trick. I have my opinions and views, but I don’t feel like it is my place to educate people. I want to bring emotions, give them an experience. The understanding might come later. I believe, it has to be a natural process.
The questions people are asking, are also the questions I am asking myself. I create from my experience and observations. I am triggered by imagery, odd behaviour, a situation that leaves me speechless. How can I explain if I don’t know?
I find unfolding helping me realize the world I experience. It isn’t about my own experience, but overall result from the artwork itself. The uncertainty you follow unveils meanings that didn’t come to you before. Meanings that were created during the process. Meanings that are different to each other. It just makes sense. Somehow, together or separately…
I made works where I followed this method in one narrative as a whole project and then in a project of multiple narratives. In I know what you are up to, I had a lot of different and separate situations, but I had an idea of putting them all together. Each sequence worked separately, but it was intended to work together with the other ones. I guess, I subconsciously tried to make a game of cards and made everyone read what they see. The events weren’t unfolding as I had my story set, but I think I was able to use as many details as I wanted to create an experience and a universe for everyone to experience. I love my newest works a lot, but this one is one my favourite projects I made. It could be because I took a simplistic approach to animating, but with the help of installation and relying on the process made a lot of difference.
I didn’t plan using this work for this topic, because it is in-transition work, but while I was writing this post I realized that it does belong here. It’s different but relevant.
In a pickle and Obsessions were the projects I had most fun with. Just to clarify, I always start with a story. You have to have some foundation and a starting point, but while I had some idea of how it has to be done, my goal was to come up with one image and animate for as long as it makes sense. Some sequences had some movements in mind, but some didn’t and it was interesting for me to see ‘a world’ I created. The biggest breakthrough using this method is then I chose to animate in watercolour. The reason is that it requires so much work and is quite an expensive way of making (imagine all the good paper and paint). So, this is where I had to be simple and really embrace unfolding.
There is no rule to this method. Everyone does it differently. I use it both in narrative making and animating. And editing too!
All I can say is – let it flow. Have you heard about surrealist automatic drawing method? This is what it is. Just using in animation. Or video work. (anything to be honest)
Often, we overthink our work. We are fishing for meanings or taking a very complicated road to explain them. In my eyes, unfolding doesn’t require explaining. Think of dreams. They can be so weird and hard to explain… Imagine, making the work like you were meditating or working in a factory on the line. Except, don’t be a machine, just don’t think too much.