The Movements of the Universe
From stars and planets orbiting around each other, to exploding supernovas, the extreme Universe is incredibly animated. Through a series of interviews with astrophysicists, starting from their own hand gestures I want to animate my interpretation of these astronomical phenomena as an artistic, poetic response to the scientists’ descriptions.
The movements of the Universe : presentation of the project
Being an animator and a teacher, I am fascinated by anything related to movements, how and why things move. A few years ago I started teaching an asto-animation class with Robin Corbet, who is also my close collaborator on the scientific aspect of this project. Each year, our students create animations based on astrophysical topics based on the latest research from the Fermi satellite scientists. During our numerous conversations with the scientists, I noticed how they use their hands when explaining a specific phenomenon. The precision, the amplitude, the flow of the hand gesture is obviously crucial to the explanation.
Hand gestures are also very symbolic for animators. Since the origins of animation in early movies, you can see the hand of the animator being present as a connection between the real world and the “magic” world of animation. As an homage to this tradition and as a symbolic bridge between science and animation, I will use the hands of the scientist as a starting point for creating animation.As a documentary animation film, I want to interview several astrophysicists in informal situations. The tone will be like a natural conversation, using light video and sound equipment. Each topic will start with the scientist, and moving to their hands, I will animate the concept discussed using different animation techniques. From hand drawn animation to stop-motion, to collages, to After-Effects…. over whole I want to convey a handmade feeling. Michel Gondry’s “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” based on conversations with Chomsky is a good example of that.
The sound quality will be primordial, as the backbones to strongly convey the various concepts of my project. I have Studio Unknown in mind as a previous collaborator. For the music track, Baltimore has a rich experimental music scene. One musician that I specially appreciate, Neil Feather, is internationally known as an inventor of experimental musical instruments. His instrumental combinations with strings,motors, flywheels,and more is a good representations of what I am looking for.
I started this project with 3 possible outcomes in mind, a documentary animation film with a Planetarium version, and an installation. I still have the installation in mind but for the purpose of this funding and the time I have, I will concentrate on the film project with also a separate planetarium outcome in a shorter version with animation only.
The Planetarium format is appealing considering the topic of my project. Projecting in 2 π steradians will present a series of challenges that would be exciting to explore. I have already established solid connections with the Maryland Science Center through my science and animation class, and I have discussed with them the possibility of using the their dome for my project.
This will fit into my desire to reach out to a larger audience, the Science Center is always packed with visitors from multiple demographic origins and they are open to feature not only educational films but also more artistic responses to scientific themes. I believe that is important to cultivate an artistic approach that can be inspirational and move audiences in multiple ways. It is also important to mention that In our current world, where science is being doubted, it is more important than ever for art and science to join forces to reach an even greater audience and stimulate public awareness.
I am also the recipient of an NEA grant based on this class: “To support a study on animation and astronomy collaborations: optimizing artistic, educational and outreach outcomes”. Both projects are tightly connected with a strong educational component.