Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Painted," Trippy Stop Motion from Elvis Schmoulianoff

Elvis Schmoulianoff Painted stop motion

Painted: An Adventure in Stop Motion Body Art from Elvis Schmoulianoff on Vimeo.

In the tradition of Peter Gabriel's classic "Sledgehammer" music video of the 1980s, animator Elvis Schmoulianoff goes way out there and shows how to manipulate pixels in order to make a human become part of a CGI background in her "Painted: An Adventure in Stop Motion Body Art."

Watching "Painted" for the first time, I admire the artistry, attention to detail, the originality and the inspiration. I also, quite frankly, am just a bit creeped out at these stop motion animations which subtly dehumanize the human form. It stems from some irrational fear about treating people as less than they are. Completely subconscious, but we all have these sorts of hidden biases, whether we acknowledge and understand them or not.

I had the same initial reaction to Gabriel's (series of) stop-motion videos, but I got over it. Now, they're just cool videos. It helps if you've gone through the artistic process yourself, as I'll explain below. But if you do find this a bit difficult to really get into at first, I understand.

In any event, being creeped out isn't necessarily a bad thing, so let's just applaud the artistic bang from a hard-working, talented lady. And I think you pay an artist more respect by being transparent about your reaction than by muffling your comments because art is at its best when it stirs the emotions and swirls you around until you gain new perspectives on the art, and yourself.

But now let's get on to my main critique.

Elvis Schmoulianoff Painted stop motion
Elvis Schmoulianoff.
One can see "Painted" as a metaphor for the artistic process itself, where art is not separate from the artist but interacts with her or him. It flows in endless waves, out, then back, submerging the artist into the painting because the painting is the artist, her expressions, her thoughts, and her passion. The art is of the artist but also shapes the artist in a symbiotic process that only ends when the artist is done with the work.

It's a great performance piece and well worth watching several times to catch all the nuances.

As Elvis states on her page:
Painted is an experiment in stop motion face & body painting that plays with the idea of giving paint it's own life and personality on a living canvas. The whole project was initially inspired by MUTO - the incredible stop motion graffiti video by BLU.
Imagined, painted, modelled, photographed & edited by Elvis Schmoulianoff
Music: Flow Motion by Square One
Everything was photographed in my bedroom in late 2012/early 2013 with a point and shoot camera , natural light, a pile of paints & body paints, brushes and a mirror over a period of 10 days. The final sequence contains footage from five of those days and is comprised of 1064 individual images, the rest was mainly retakes of the first minute which all taught me valuable lessons in what not to do...
Music is by Flow Motion By Square One. Ms. Schmoulianoff credits a slice of inspiration to the legendary Fritz Lang, which is always a pleasure to see.

We're fortunate that we may see more of this from the artist:
I learned SO MUCH and am absolutely desperate to make another - this was just a test to ready me for a real one after all!! However I want to do it properly next time now I have a slightly better idea of how to go about it - and that involves a controlled light source and the kind of camera that won't fit in your back pocket... but as soon I can afford one there will be PLENTY more work coming your way :)
Anyone interested in more Elvis may visit her site here.


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