“Whatever the optical configuration is, the external worlds that enters into our minds will be distorted and that’s what gives us our subjective experiences.
We are what we see, or we are what we choose to see.”
This interpretation of visual art that Mike Chang puts forth is one worth contemplating. Two people could look at the same thing and perceive it completely differently. While it can be frustrating at times, it is this particular quirk of nature that fuels the creation of film and art. Let’s take a little peek into the heads of animator-filmmaker Jerrold Chong and visual artist Mike Chang to find out more about the way they view animation, sculpture making and life.
1. Animation (and its fantastical possibilities)
This short clip shows some of the key films in stop-motion history and illustrates just how much animation has developed over time; from stop motion in 1900 to Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) in 1980, with the latter getting more sophisticated as time goes on.
The inherently fantastical nature of animation presents endless possibilities for cinema, yet still reminds one of childlike imagination and play. The popularity of films like Wallace and Gromit or Toy Story serves to reinforce this. However, its reputation should not discount the fact that animation can also explore adult themes through cinematic techniques. As a filmmaker, Jerrold believes that animation is cinema, and therefore cinematic ideas can also be applied to animation. Anomalisa, directed by Charlie Kaufman (and a film Jerrold himself worked on!), is a great example of how animation adds a whimsical quality to a relatable human drama.
2. Deconstruction (and the expression of subjective human experiences)
With regards to what makes a film compelling, Jerrold feels that “the more impossible it is [for the character to fulfill their desires], the more interesting it becomes for the audience watching”. The human struggle, the need to connect, and the navigation of time and space in spite of obstacles are universal themes that are identifiable to many.
These themes are something Jerrold strives to show in his work. In Ways of Seeing (2015), the subjectivity of vision is brought to light, ironically by those who cannot see and in Eclipse (2016), the movement of the moon is not the most surreal thing that happens to a boy, his father, and a stag. You will get to see this for yourself as we will be screening these films during the session.
3. Intersections (between animation and sculpture making)
The visceral nature of both art forms make for a fascinating study of elements such as textures and realism. As stop motion sets require an entire world to be scaled down, details such as skin textures or character movement become more important. This world building can also be seen in sculpture making, as both mediums require a solid structure to parallel real life.
Contrary to popular belief, animation and sculpture making is more intuitive than you would think. According to Mike, it’s “knowing when to control and when to let go of that control” and over time developing the muscle memory. Intuition also encourages innovation. Rarely, if ever, does an idea turn out exactly how one imagines it. Mike may start his process by drawing, but making a sculpture of that drawing could prove impossible. This is where innovation comes into play. The relationship between time and the creative process is another similarity which both mediums share. Despite the hours of backbreaking work, watching something grow right in front of one’s eyes is definitely a magical experience.
Animators and sculptors construct worlds through clay and wire and paint; these man-made worlds present to us the multitudes of ways to see the world and inspires in us a childlike wonder that there will always be new things to create and to see.
Headless Dimensions: Skewered Relations with Time and Space
Jerrold Chong in dialogue with Mike Chang
Date: Wednesday, 30 August 2017
Time: 8PM – 9.30PM
Venue: *SCAPE Gallery (Level 5), 2 Orchard Link Singapore 237978
Limited seats. Register now via Peatix: http://sgiff-newwavesaug2017.peatix.com