We don’t need words to describe an image like this. Anima Mundi 2011 has a very special guest: Miwa Matreyek, who brought her performance Mith and Infrastructure. Graduated in Experimental Animation in CalArt, Miwa is an animator, designer and multimedia artist. Her capacity to integrate different artistic aspects is an important component of her work. In Mith and Infrastructure we can see the presence of art, animation and music, all united in a place where the absence of natural laws makes it hard to tell the difference between real and unreal. For the artist, the point is exploring how animation and reality can influence each other. Check out the interview we did with Miwa, in partnership with TV Brasil' program, Animania!
How was your first contact with animation?
Miwa: I arrived to animation by making collages and then making the collages move with music. Some of the earlier inspirations were Brothers Quay, where there is a lot of work with collage, as well as with stop motion. I have a real interest in music and animation sort of working together, creating this dance. My works often tends to be choreographed to the music as well.
What is the performance idea? Where did you get the inspiration to do it?
Part of it came from being in school at CalArts. I began taking classes in the theater school, especially a little bit with puppetry, what really opened up what I was doing with animation. I was interested, even though my performance was on the screen, in taking animation and transforming it into a more physical sense. And I hope that in my work, by mixing my physical body with my animation, the animation becomes a little bit more real and my body becomes a little bit more fantastical, into this sort of strange illusion combination world.
How do you transform your body into an animation? Can you explain a little bit more for us?
In my work there is a lot of play with scale. The animation would be a city and I’m walking in the city, and all the sudden I’m this giant, walking into the city. Animation kind of has this way where it can transform time, where something can be speed up or something can be slow down. And what does it mean for a real body to be in that space? I’m interested to see how the laws of physics kind of don’t apply in this body, in how gravity doesn’t work either, because there is sort of this floating way the body can move within animation. I’m not sure if I’m explaining it right. It is hard to explain because it is more like a feeling.
Can you tell us little bit about CalArts?
CalArts is an amazing school. It was actually founded by Disney, to be the animation school for the Disney’s animators and now it is becoming like a full art school, that has dance, theater, writing, music, animation and fine art. They really encourage collaborating across disciplines. So, you know, you meet with the dancers, then you create something new and then you meet with the musician and they help you with your film. So it’s very inspiring in that way. And being at this animation festival right now, kind of reinforces all this in me, because a lot of people here went to CalArts, like Léa Zagury, one of the founders of Anima Mundi. The history is very deep in the animation world with CalArts. And I’m really excited to be a part of it.
Did you produce the animation in your performance? Do you like to do only animation? Which are you favorite styles or techniques?
I studied animation and I primarily consider myself an animator and a performer second. I don’t really want to be recognized as a performance, I’m shy about it. In animation, I usually most after affects, a lot of compositing life video elements with sort of collagen images, like photography that I take from around the street.
What other artists inspires you?
Someone that really inspires me is Michel Gondry. In my work there is a lot of puzzle solving: figuring out how the layers are gone work together with the body, for example. There are a lot of small puzzles that I have to solve. I think that Michel Gondry has also a lot of puzzles that he solves. Of course there is also the music and the images kind of combine together into this really beautiful dance. His work really inspires me, especially his broadness of experimentation.
Does your performance try to show that animation can be more than the films we set on the screen? That the horizon can be amplified?
I’m not sure if that is what I’m trying to show. There is a lot of figuring out the puzzles in my work. It actually works as these little vignettes that I string together and I hope that there is sort of a narrative arc, at least the feeling that I’m taking the audience somewhere.
What touches you in this work? What moves you to do it?
For me the most important is really the puzzle solving. There is a lot of things that I find fascinating, you know, baking, cooking and just look outside of my window, things that inspires me everyday. It is about imagining the image and wanting to create and actually play with it through animation. And then making the images through shooting video and compose it. It is like a collage of layers, my body is part of the collage and the two projections are combined with my body to create an image.
Did you performed in other countries? How are people receiving your work?
I’ve been touring this piece around. I’ve been to France, England, Beijing, Norway, and Canada. This is the first time in South America, even in the southern hemisphere. The reception has been pretty great because I think that is really universal. There are no words, just sort of a happy feeling and that translates into any country.
Do you know other artists that are also trying to cross the line between animation and other kinds of art?
It seems that projection mapping is really taking off in terms of projecting into buildings and transforming the buildings, which is also very interesting when it is really done well. PikaPika definitely is part of this movement. I’ve also seen interesting zootropes, like 3D sculptural zootropes. There was someone named Gregory Barsamian that I was in a festival with and he made this really amazing sculpture with strobe lights and the sculpture keep spinning really fast, which is probably dangerous, but creates this really visceral and beautiful animation in front of you. That is so much more striking than see 3D films with glasses on. It seems like that the film festivals have been more open to not just film, but film and installation or film and performance. There is this move of opening it up and take it to this whole new thing for the audience, what is very exciting. And it is also very interesting because most of the artists that do things like that are not necessarily animators or film makers, but they arrive to film and animation via being a sculpture or a photographer or something else, like a digital media artist. It is very interesting to see film and animation from a different perspective.