With stunning cinematography (and no CGI), director Oscar Hudson pays homage to Japan’s social phenomenon of ‘Hikikomori’.
A dreamy, disconnected electronic beat plays as a Japanese teenager wakes up in his bedroom, visibly troubled at the thought of facing the day ahead of him. But there are tricks at play, as he walks through the door, only to find a replica of his bedroom ahead, and of him too, staring into the mirror. And then there is another, and another, till we see a series of bedrooms and the boy in it – only the room appears to be becoming smaller and more crowded as the boy gets bigger.
This linking of the psychological and the physical space plays as the perfect foil to British music producer Bonobo’s inspired number No Reason. Director Oscar Hudson mines the Japanese phenomenon of Hikikomori – when young people find themselves overwhelmed and end up as housebound recluses. According to the government, the number of hikikomori between the ages of 15 to 30 in Japan in 2015 numbered some 540,000.
The cinematography No Reason is inspired by the 2014 Oscar-winner Birdman. The vocals by Nick Murphy (also known as Chet Faker) contribute to the dream-like sequence and the feeling of overwhelming monotony. “We achieved the film using only in-camera physical effects and we designed an entirely new way of moving our miniature camera to get it to fit through the tiny doorways. Doing this film with CGI would have been a thousand times easier, but for me, it’s physicality and imperfections are what make it different, and, I hope better,” said Hudson.
Alice Zilberberg merges traditional photography and computer illustration, creating images that bridge the platforms of photography and painting. Her work marries reality and fantasy, echoing elements of surrealism and baroque art. Using photo-manipulation metaphorically, her images explore themes such as female power, the natural environment, personal identity, and the human condition.
The series Goddess Almighty is a reinterpretation of the first recorded goddess, Mother Nature. Worshipped in a time when nature was depended upon and respected, she epitomized fertility, the life cycle and sexual freedom, all embodied in a woman. Today, by contrast, we domineer and destroy nature. Our primary religions convey god as a man and traditionally devalue women. Reminiscent of baroque art, the work reestablishes the goddess to her origins, defining her as strong, mysterious and defeating. Dancers are used for their physical strength, their muscles digitally exaggerated.
Influences by the surrealism movement, The Dreaming Girls is an homage to the surrealists working from the 1920s to the 1960s. This project uses surreal art photography to channel the unconscious and unleash imagination. Writing down dreams and visual ideas for weeks, the project was made using different images taken in different places. The images were put together, with colouring and toning digitally.
As the themes in Alice’s work change, the fascination with the surreal stays.
Interview with Alice Zilberberg
Where are you from?
I grew up in Israel.
Where do you live now?
Downtown Toronto, Canada.
How has that affected your work?
Some of my work like my project “Home”, speaks about my background and belonging. In this project, the bottom half of the images were photographed in Israel, the country I grew up in, while the sky was shot in Canada, the country I currently reside in. When I arrived in Canada I found it difficult to connect to other, and when I came to visit “Home” (Israel) after many years, I realized that in Israel I was Canadian, and in Canada I was Israeli. The landscapes are digitally manipulated to appear otherworldly, like a different planet, representing a place I am estranged from. In them I see a familiarity, a place that is so beautiful, that has recognizable features, but somewhere I feel alien.
What concepts or stories do you often return to? Why?
I have made a few projects that are eco-feminist in nature, which explore the connections between femininity and the natural environment. I return to these themes because I like to take ideas I’m interested in and make metaphoric connections that appear in my work. In the future, I see myself making direct connections to personal experiences and my life in my projects.
What artists do you look up to?
Some contemporary artists I admire are Ray Caesar, Erwin Olaf, Natalie Shau, Miss Aniela, Erik Johansson, and Brooke Shaden. I also love artists such as Dali, Rene Magritte, Frida Kahlo, Frans Snyder, and Jan Weenix.
Your work is surrealistic and you work in digital photography. How did you come about to choose this combination?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I young age. I started playing with digital illustration and photo-manipulation before I picked up a camera. My style developed when I discovered photography I saw that I could manipulate photography in the computer and create surrealistic images. I’ve been working in this technique for over ten years.
Feminism seems to be important in the two bodies of work we are featuring. Who or what has influence your thinking on this?
As someone who grew up in a small kibbutz in Israel, I’ve always felt very connected to nature. As I child I remember always playing outside and being in nature as opposed to being connecting to technology. Owning my own business and being entrepreneurial in nature, I feel the connection to empower women.
My work has for many years been inspired by Carl Jung and exploring my subconscious. I work through painting, assemblage, digital art, and installation, employing various strategies to access animus, the shadow, my elan vital. Through creative expression, I attempt to create the inner reality of my psyche. My work acts as a mirror where I try to see my soul – the inner workings of my mind. It transcends persona and barriers to connect with my true self where I hope to reconcile internal conflicts and heal myself. It would be impossible to communicate these aspects of my psyche verbally. The work is full of symbolism and archetypes which I believe are viewed in turn by the viewer in an unconscious manner. I hope that this will also be as therapeutic for the audience as it is for myself. I invite others to have a glimpse of a mind that is often troubled, anxious and depressed and to find empathy and understanding for people who are suffering from mental illness. I hope to touch the soul of anyone viewing my work. My work varies in style and is mostly influenced by the work of other artists, my mood, and environment. Recently Rauschenberg’s Combines have inspired me to create pieces that incorporate painting and assemblage, sometimes recycling art that I created some time in the past.
Larain Briggs studied Fine Art at Camberwell and education in Art at Goldsmiths in London, UK. Briggs studied for a BSc in Computer Aided Visualisation at the Anglia Polytechnic University and Art Therapy at the Institute for Art in Therapy and Education. Briggs now focuses on her multidisciplinary art practice full time.
Kyle Thompson’s hauntingly surreal photographs evade narrative and easy answers. We make associations and attempt to form meanings that that artist has indicated, but are left with only more questions.
Yet Thompson’s work is gratifying: elegant compositions. Rich colors. Powerful juxtapositions. Each image is unique, but form a complex body of work.
The artist tends to use himself as the main subject in his deeply personal photography.
The brunt of Thompson’s work consists of beautiful, striking and surreal self-portraits in which Thompson is bending reality to his will.
“I started taking self-portraits because I enjoyed going out alone,” Thompson recently told The Daily Beast. “It was easiest because I am always available and… I wanted some way to channel my emotions. I felt self-portraits were the most personal.”
His work is often set in abandoned houses or deep inside forests where he creates scenes of solitude that, on occasion, require that he set himself on fire.
Ghose Town (2013)
Kyle Thompson Biography
Kyle Thompson was born in Chicago on January 11th, 1992. He began taking photographs at the age of nineteen after finding interest in nearby abandoned houses. His work is mostly composed of self portraits, often taking place in empty forests and abandoned homes.
His work encapsulates the ephemeral narrative, a nonexistent story line that only lives for a split moment. These images show the collapse of narrative, as there is no defined story line with a beginning and end; instead, these images create a loop. This fleeting moment lives on in a constant unchanging state. By diverting the view of the face, the images become more ambiguous, the viewer is no longer able to tie a defined story line to the image.
He is currently based in Portland, OR
Eugenia Loli creates surrealist collages from vintage magazines. Her work blends nostalgia with psychedelia in a retro-futurist space-age epoxy that rivals the Dadaist collage masters.
Collage artist Eugenia Loli uses photography scanned from vintage magazines and science publications to create bizarre visual narratives that borrow from aspects of pop art, dada, and traditional surrealism. Loli’s background is almost as diverse as the imagery she employs, having been born in Greece and living in Germany and the UK before settling in California. She previously worked as a nurse, a computer programmer, and as a technology journalist, but has only recently found a calling in collage work with publication in numerous magazines since 2013.
About Eugenia Loli
Q: Who the heck are you?
A: I’m Eugenia. I grew up in Greece, but I’ve also lived in Germany and UK. These days I live in California. I’ve been a (terrible) nurse, a computer programmer, a (rather successful) technology journalist, and a filmmaker. In April 2012, after I had just finished an animated music video, I decided to try collaging after the knowledge I gathered from making the animation. I got hooked ever since! Here is a short list of my publications so far.
Some random tidbits: I love sci-fi and sushi. I’m a major geek. I’m a (gluten-free) Paleo dieter for life, since I credit it for saving it after 10 years of major health problems. Finally, I’m an INFP.
Q: Do you have an artist’s statement?
A: “Eugenia Loli originated in the technology sector, but she left that impersonal world behind in order to build new, exciting worlds via her art. Her collages, with the help of the title, often include a teasing, visual narrative, as if they’re a still frame of a surreal movie. The viewers are invited to make up the movie’s plot in their mind.”
Q: How do you make your collages?
A: I start by finding a “base” image, and then I sort of build around it. Sometimes I have a concrete idea of what I want to do, and sometimes I leave the images to fit together by themselves. Sometimes, after a lot of juxtaposing, the “base” image might not even be part of the final collage. Most of the time, I try to “say” something important via my art, but other times it’s just about doodling.
Q: What are your influences?
A: I got into collage because I loved Julien Pacaud’s illustrations, but it was Kieron “Cur3es” Cropper who became my main influence. The guy’s a genius. Bryan “Glass Planet” Olson and David Delruelle are also influences of mine. From the older artists, I’d have to say, Magritte. However, I collage on many different styles: from “pop” to dada, and from modern illustrations to traditional surrealism. I don’t believe that artists should “find their style”. That’s artistic death. If I have a style, it’s probably some “meta” aspect of it (e.g. the sarcasm that I usually employ in my collages), rather than something visual.