The concept for “Projections” first came to me while working on a slide presentation about the 20th century Dadaist art movement. Researching the works by artists like Raoul Hausmann and Kurt Schwitters, I became particularly fascinated by their collages. Irrational and chaotic, these composite works demand that the viewer forge their own subjective links between their disconnected subject matter, resulting in a unique experience contingent on the perceiver’s associations. I began to wonder how these artworks would translate to film, imagining their constituents moving in an intricate symphony across the screen. Intrigued by this idea, I decided to explore it in the form of a short animation.
Unfortunately, I had next to no animation experience going into this project. Unfamiliar with both traditional and digital animation, I first had to learn the basics of the craft before I could make any progress. After a few weeks of trial and error, I began to create brief “collage-films”: experimental shots which merged different filmmaking techniques into the same frames – e.g., claymation overlayed on found footage or partially rotoscoped photographs.
My next challenge lied in relating the same, connection-based psychological phenomena through film as is induced by Dadaist collage. To do so, I took two pieces of unrelated archival footage and connected them with animations representing my own subjective associations. For example, a video of a crying baby juxtaposed with a clip of a slithering python would relate in my mind through the concept of original sin. Therefore, I added a pair of devil horns and a bitten apple to the shot. After linking these first two ideas together, I continued to add new subjects to the sequence until I had created what I felt to be a substantial chain of animation.
Due to the project’s stream-of-consciousness nature, I decided not to storyboard the film in advance. This way, my process remained fluid while never shutting itself off to new ideas. I did, however, set a goal of always having at least three different types of filmmaking on screen simultaneously – e.g., a stop-motion telephone ringing in front of an archival footage background with a digitally animated electrocardiogram hovering above. The most difficult shots were those in which separately captured elements are manipulated to interact on screen. These moments, such as the diver’s pop bottle landing or the scissor-cut transition, required the use of clever tricks like double greenscreens, backwards animation, and rotoscoped fishing wire.
Although at times frustrating, “Projections” was truly a joy to create. After working for more than five months on this two-minute film, I believe I have produced an experiment piece which not only highlights but celebrates the radical subjectivity of the medium. If I could ask anything of the viewer, it would be to participate in the film, allowing their own personal associations to function as the mortar between its bricks of imagery. In doing so, I hope that “Projections” will extend beyond the screen and into our universal web of experience.