From 2018 to 2021, I worked at artist and animator Signe Baumane’s studio as a set painter and prop fabricator. All sets and props, shown in the gallery bellow are made with wood and covered in paper. Sturgis Warner creates all of the wooden structures, then everything is first paper machéd, then treated with paint and other materials according to the imagined look of the environment.
For many of these sets, Signe Baumane asks her assistants and interns to make paper maché objects. It’a a part of her internship training, and also essential to how the sets of her films are made. The studio works like an excellent paper and wood recycling facility. During the making of “My Love Affair With Marriage”, Sturgis Warner made all the sets from wood and other materials he collected from the streets of Sunset Park. As the set making team, we went thrrough stacks of Brooklyn’s local newspaper, delivery boxes and packaging materials. There were also happy accidents. In the picture below, the wallpapers are made out of unused receipt rolls. It turned out that their size was perfect width for this scaled down family home.
Optical Illusion instruments paved the way to film and animation. I discovery zoetropes while researching the history of animation, and started experimenting with shapes and structure designs to make my own. The one below, is a working zoetrope made from 12 plexiglass panels instead of a single cylindrical piece. The panels are arranged like a flower expanding from the center. The gaps between them work like a shutter and trick the eye to think that there is a continous movement.
Panels from the first iteration
Below is a working model of the zoetrope spinning on a pottery wheel. The film is shot in 24 fps which is the old standart for all films and animations before digital filmmaking. The zoetrope iscranky, the panels fallout after a couple of minutes of spinning, yet it animates and looks like a friendly UFO.
Below is a second iteration of this zoetrope using the same design principles with small modifications and the addition of dancing Shiva, also known as Nataraja. The purpose of Shiva’s dance is to release humans from the illusion of self. I interpreted this spiritual message as a way to remind myself of our intersections, one of which is our minds. Optical instruments were to understanding the mind and brain. One of the first of such instruments is the Artificial Waterfall created by physiologist Henry P. Bowditch. He made the object to study why hikers perceived rocks to be rising after staring at descending water.
I used this this virtual environment made in the digital realm after the real one to ponder upon memory. How does a memory reside in my mind? How truthful is it to the moment it was created? How destructive or creative is the moment of its retrieval?
I find great joy and stimulation in the material qualities of glass. This sculpture resembling a coffin and its upper part is a take on life and non-existence. The image on two planes on both sides flips every two minutes when an artificial cycle of a day is completed.
The video flipping from one side of the tomb stone to the other.