01/11/2014

The mega update

It's been a while since I last updated this blog. Not very good of me, but it's been an extremely busy year. To begin: I graduated from Parsons in May! A long two years where I had to cope with my culture shock of being a Dutch girl in New York, cope with a Parsons culture shock (teachers were much closer to their students in my school in the Netherlands), cope with the amazing amount of work I did on my thesis... and what else kept me from writing here? Well... I fell in love. I fell in love and got married right after my graduation. Another legitimate excuse not to update! It was a lovely wedding, though, and everybody had a lovely time.

Feeling old, insecure and like an adult, I decided today would be the best day to finally brush off the cobwebs of this blog and tell you how I am doing.

Or perhaps not tell you, but show you.

In the year that I did not update I made:

1. a gigantic maze about fracking and its effects. You can go see it as it is right now on:

www.frackingmaze.info

It's still rough around the edges, but I'll get to fixing that eventually. In any case, this has occupied me so much that I barely had time to write about my stuff on this blog, using instead the mandatory wordpress blog so that my professors could keep up with me (and updating that one on a sporadic basis as well...). You can follow the process I went through on that one:

http://sophiekaars.wordpress.com/

2. a video demonstrating a non-existing app for a horrendous building called the University Study Centre, which belongs to the New School:



It was a fun group I was with, but it did not charm me at all to the advantages of living in a 'green' building. I found it claustrophobic and had trouble with the ventilation system, giving me massive headaches if I stayed there too long. We'll see how environmental this building will be in the future, but I am sceptical. Perhaps it's just the aesthetic that doesn't really win me over (the not-quite brutalist, not-quite modernist and overall 'meh' style of it doesn't inspire me very much - I prefer dramatic buildings that make sweeping statements and refuse to compromise with its humans)

3. Some rats for my mother:



She has this on autoplay on her website and I strongly urge any of the two people who read this blog to go there:

www.turningthetables.nl

I know she's my mother and all, but she IS an amazing and very talented artist, and my secret wish for her is that she exposes in a bigger space than just small Pulchri in The Hague.

4. My wedding:





This entire wedding was planned and organised by us. I designed the invitations, we set the locations, and it turned out to be gigantic success. 








The photographer did a good job (I have a couple hundred from him, so these pictures I posted barely cover the entire extent of the two days of wedding), and he works for The Lovely Lens.

5. My demoreel:




6. My website (still working on it):

www.sophiekaars.com

7.  And a webcomic, co-authored by my husband (even if he denies it), Eric Garside:

www.worldbehindthedoor.com

And there we are! A gigantic update of all the things I did between may 2013 and today. Of course, there are other things I am working on as well, like a mini-mini-documentary about my father-in-law's halloween installations and some projects for my mother, as well as looking for a job, but I will report on that when that comes along! I have time again, and that takes some getting used to...

28/05/2013

End of the semester

Well, I have just finished my first year in Parsons. It was a wild time, having to get used to being in a new place, new people, new influences, new ideas... I'm now settled and I even managed to make two new animations this semester.

The first was done for a collaboration called "Writing on the wall", and was led by Ted Byfield. The film was a joint effort - I was in charge of animation and the visual aesthetic. The film is meant as an explanation or documentation of a new system we were working on to make it easier for Parsons students to register for classes they wanted to take.



This film will probably be shown on a website dedicated to our suggestion for a new registration system. 

The second film is more in the vein of "Trilemma" and "5 to 12". I had been following the debate that followed the Sandy Hook shootings, and I was particularly interested in how certain ideals were communicated using a technique called "framing". This film is meant as a visual essay that explores the rhetorical frame used in the political debate and its consequences.




My next project will probably be about the interpretation of data, and how the same set of information can be viewed positively of negatively.

05/05/2013

In production

For those interested in the animation process, here is the third pencil test for my latest film "Paranoia".


30/04/2013

In production: how to draw

How to accidentally draw non-Euclidean structures in three easy steps!

1. draw some perspective lines
2. draw arcs on the horizontal and vertical lines.

3. Fill it in.


I'm going back to work now.

25/04/2013

In production

For those that like to follow the nitty gritty of animation, here's a collection of pencil tests that make up the introduction to my latest film.


12/03/2013

Paranoia

Last post I was talking about the gun industry's cynical use of other people's fears to maintain their commercial advantage. Based on that idea, I drew up a rough storyboard. It's been a week since that last post, and I have been thinking further. 

So far, I've established that the gun control debate is largely influenced by the NRA, which serves as the mouthpiece for the gun industry, and both are driven by very cynical minds.

This cynical tone, then, affects all other facets of the gun control debate:
While I was doing research I noticed two trends, this:
and more relevant to the subject, the rhetorical technique of "framing":
The frame, as I understand it, is a way to "package" a concept in a political ideology. This is done through the use of language - a colleague becomes a "comrade", a body bag becomes a "transfer tube" and a gun owner becomes a "law-abiding, hard-working American".


In the gun lobby's case, the frames used are ones that play in on the fears of American society - particularly the fear of losing control to a faceless and authoritarian government. The consequence of using such a visceral fear as a framing device, is that it leads to mass paranoia.


So, to get back to my own focus for this film, the original theme - cynicism - changed into its consequence: paranoia.
A few weeks ago, I briefly explained the trouble this subject presents to me.

The problem is that I am a foreigner. That automatically makes me an outsider.


As such, I am not really in a position to criticize a society I do not belong in. I am out of my element.


This means that, if I want to make a critical film, I have to be careful. The problem with topical films is that they have a short shelf-life, and they are usually drawn/written from the point of view of a particular opinion. This means two things: the first is that a film loses all relevance when the political situation changes or a resolution is reached. The second is more in the interest of the filmmaker: an opinionated film is a dangerous thing to have one's name tied to when the political situation gets hairy. Add to this my position as an outsider commenting on events that have little to do with me, and that means that making politically engaged films is a risky business. Particularly when the debate is dominated on both sides by paranoid people.

For this film I turned to my favourite animators: Jan Svankmayer and William Kentridge. 


Jan Svankmayer
William Kentridge
What I like about these two is how they "package" their own political message in carefully constructed metaphors and imagery, without being overt in their opinions, and without necessarily having to pick sides. In the case of the former, Svankmayer, used humour and surrealism to create incredibly critical films against the authorities in Socialist Czechoslovakia. The latter, William Kentridge, lives in a country that has to deal with the scars and damage left behind by apartheid on a daily basis.

In my own film, I decided to have two main characters/elements:

The gun lobbyists, as represented by pin-striped suits.


And the frame itself

As an actual object, in all kinds of different shapes and sizes.



So here is the storyboard:





  
 
 
Until next time.