Motion Collage: “Fingertips” by Holy Spirits & Gem Club

As you may already know from my previous post I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dead as Digital, Stadiums and Shrines and The Road Goes Ever On on the inaugural Weget.by release, Collaborations. As the name implies, the album/mixtape (actually a tape) is comprised entirely of artists collaborations, often over long distances without ever meeting in person. That this kind of cross continental cooperation is possible is yet another positive side effect of the internet and a concept I can get behind, so I wanted to do all I could to support the project.

The hardest part was selecting which track from the tape to use for the video. I mean, Star Slinger, Blackbird Blackbird, Emay, Pepepiano, Warm Waves, Weed, Foxes in Fiction… + loads of others. All artists I’ve come to love and respect over the past year. Ultimately, after digesting the mix for a week, I knew the collaboration between Holy Spirits & Gem Club was it. I found myself walking home from work calmly humming it in my head. The combination of warming lush strings and finger style guitar just seemed to embody everything I envisioned for an animated version of the artwork.

In the spirit of full transparency, there was one other factor that may have led me in the direction of the “Fingertips” track. I’m in the process of creating motion collages for every track on the Holy Spirits EP, The Afternoon’s Blood, leading up to live performances together in the coming months, so I’ve been listening to a lot of them lately. Often falling asleep, waking even, with a melody of theirs in my head. Not a bad thing. So keep an eye out for more of these in the future, as we’ll be releasing a couple leading up to our debut performance.

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Collaborations: 2010 Summers End

I was honored to be apart of this cassette/digital release brought to fruition by some wonderful people, Dead as Digital, Stadiums and Shrines and The Road Goes Ever On. The concept behind Collaborations is pure and simple yet yielded some beautiful, complex and unexpected results. The participating artists range from sample based hip-hop to mellow drone rock to dream pop. For some, this was uncharted territory. Since the results could have been anything, the album art needed to visually represent the underlying concept and not a single sound. It needed to show the exchange of ideas and the complexity differing landscapes can produce while occupying the same space. On the cover, two hands share a single flowering plant, merging together and producing one. On the back, the fruits of their labor are nurtured and enjoyed.

You can read more about the project here and pre-order the cassette from wegetby here. Limited edition of 100. Hope you enjoy and stay tuned for the digital release!

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Motion Collage Poem to the tune of Holy Spirits

As of late I’ve been in experimentation ADD mode, testing the waters anywhere I can. This time around I wanted to combine a few of my recent endeavors, collage poems, subtle animation and working more closely with music. I have a lofty goal of writing, scoring and animating my own short film in the not too distant future and I know I have a lifetime left to learn but I feel like these experiments are slowly leading down the proper path.

For this video I worked with the music of Brooklyn’s Holy Spirits. Their (free) demo EP, The Afternoon’s Blood, self-described Baroque pop, sonically achieves the depth and layering that I try to convey in my collage work. The slowly building harmonies they construct with voice I’ve attempted to visually recreate with subtly shifting layers, before coming to rest on a piece of the whole. As the sound moves forward it deposits small pieces along the way, building our experience of the finished work. I listen to a lot of different music as inspiration for my collages and the ones that meld best always have room for thought, ambient but still provide something of substance to grasp onto. Holy Spirits fit the bill quite perfectly.

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The Sunshine Makers: Re-presented by Think or Smile featuring the music of Brandon Biondo

I’ve had “Make a music video” on my teuxdeux list for a while now, it’s been on my mental to-do list for even longer. I have sketchbooks full of elaborate ideas for short films and animations but it always seemed too daunting of a task to even start. I never could find a good place to begin. Well, there must have been some galactic alignment the other night because everything just fell perfectly into place.

While browsing archive.org I stumbled on a 1935 animated cartoon done by Van Beuren Studios for the Borden Milk Company called “The Sunshine Makers.” After watching a few seconds of it I was hooked. The animations were so beautifully glitchy and the colors were perfectly aged. Exactly the type of aesthetic I’ve been drawn to lately, and the plot was too tempting to pass up on. It’s a story about blissed out gnomes who have the power to distill sunshine and bottle it in the form of milk. (Perhaps thats where Burgess got the idea for A Clockwork Orange’s milk plus??) The gnomes get attacked by these anti-sunshine goblins which turns into an all out battle of milk vs. tar, sunshine vs. gloom.

After I downloaded the animation I scrubbed through a couple tracks I thought would effectively tell the story without words. I’ve been loving the singles from Brandon Biondo lately and “Westworld” had the perfect amount of energy, light and dark the animation needed to match what was in my head. I really wanted Com Truise’s “Sundriped” to work out but it was just a little too syrupy.

I’m really diggin’ how it all came together, I could jam to the Biondo track all day and seeing gnomes bomb goblins with milk bottles brings a smile to my face every time I watch it. Hope it brings a little sunshine your way.

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Collage Poems: Destructive editing

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the urge to start writing again, I think in part because last month I stumbled upon some short stories I wrote during college and partly because I can’t get the narration to Sascha Ciezata’s short film “The Crossing Place” out of my head. Both have made me want to create an animated short of my own, but my lack of storytelling and animation skills have become a slight stumbling block. So I’m approaching it like I do everything else in life, experiment until I figure it out.

As an exercise I tried writing stories around some of my collages. Each time I found a new image I wanted to work with I’d start browsing the story already written about it, which incidentally isn’t a good method for writing your own. So I began looking for a few key words that I might be able to use as idea starters, which is when I started making connections between unrelated sentences, combining words and fragments to build new ones. As I read them they started sounding very much like poems, something I’ve never tried writing before. Curious, I started making more of them sometimes independent of any images. I began approaching them much in the same way I would create a collage, by cutting out the pieces I’m interested in, deconstructing the existing narrative to make it my own. I find it fascinating that it only takes a few simple edits to completely decontextualized someone’s writing, creating completely new thoughts, and I’m a little surprised it’s taken me this long to figure this out.

It’s been a short detour from my path of making an animated short but like all experiments I’m sure it will be useful in the future. If you want to see more / larger versions of these studies check out the Collage Poem Flickr set. You can read the isolated poems and see a few different paper collages utilizing them. If your interested in any of the paper collages contact me.. I’m sure we can work something out.

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Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2010