Scents and Memories
University of Wisconsin--Stout. Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
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Through a combination of animation, comics, and book art, I preserve and reclaim a unique practice of storytelling. This is a practice of synthesizing digital and traditional works together, which the gentrification of the internet and monopolization of animation has been trying to kill for the sake of profit. My artistic practice is a blend of digital and traditional. Computer animation and digital art often diminish the impact of traditional works through instant gratification. While I aspire to use analog animation, it is not feasible for a single animator to complete alone. A mix of traditional and digital art can help me complete my projects faster, while retaining handcrafted qualities. Furthermore, I utilize the juxtaposition of digital imagery and stop motion as a layer in the narrative. In Battle to the Deaf, reality—my brother and I as people--are drawn as distinctly digital, pixelated cartoons; the virtual world is stop-motion animated with our video game avatars built with actual materials in the “real” world. The term “book” is used to speak to a collection of sequential images that explore how the reader can interact with the book as a sculptural object, as with Tall Bike. Books can diverge from the traditional notion of a bound book, such as live readings, or a recorded telling of the story. In my work, this divergence exists via my concept of an animated book. I display pages composed of projected stop-motion animated panels, still images and drawings, and pages built of dimensional diorama panels containing sculpted scenes with clay characters. My “animated books” have an ephemeral quality to them unlike regular books which can be easily reprinted and copied. Animated works can only be truly experienced through interaction and projection, creating a unique copy, or through a website on the internet, which could easily be lost or broken. It highlights the fragility of the internet and animated medium that is often taken for granted. Scents explores these possibilities. It is a draft for a larger story that explores the contradiction in our supposedly-free capitalistic society. The plot centers people from various backgrounds all coping with the precarious technological hyper-individualized dystopia. Each character is compartmentalized within small quarters of the story while visually mimicking the compartmentalization of comic panels. The framing of the narrative forces the viewer to recognize their role through a mix of third, first, and second person. Animated elements demonstrate a desire to break the boundaries imposed on the characters’ lives figuratively and literally as movement alters the structure of the page. Stop-motion animation gives a soulful, tactile quality while digital media stitches the work together, reflecting the subtle but inescapable effects of technology on our lives. The merging of stop motion and comics creates an intimacy between human touch and direct communication; stop motion’s textual and handmade qualities emphasize a connection usually lost in computer animation. Comics similarly foster a close bond with a reader. I synthesize these mediums to craft a multimedia narrative which reinvigorates modes of expression and connection beyond just entertainment. These pieces are explorations for larger narratives in which I continue to examine themes of memory and the simultaneous intimacy and alienation we experience in our lives through forced labor and exploitation under capitalism. I encourage viewers to transcend boundaries and consider a future other than what is marketable. My practice comes from a need to express the deep pain, rage, and lethargy inflicted upon us from the devastating events that occur constantly: the pandemic, the fascistic state of America, the technological dystopia, and climate change, to name a few. Animation is often associated with positive children’s media, though it can also offer nuanced emotional insight into these events through movement and textures that live-action film cannot. I offer a window to directly experience a literal manifestation of this surreal reality we live in with a non-satirical sense of humor, as satire offers no solution. What I express is merely an exaggerated extension of reality. Part of me wants to escape this reality, but another part wants to design a solution, a future that is habitable and hopeful. My work is not about the doom of our situation, but the kind of future we can have beyond capitalism.
Ozark, E. (2022). Scents and Memories. University of Wisconsin-Stout Journal of Student Research, 20, 60-65.