An image is also eternal, but it has no dealings with time—it disowns it, as it has to do, for how could one ever in the practical world scrutinise or comprehend the balance sheet of time that has brought about the image’s unending movement? Yet the spirituality of the image beckons us, as our own sight does, with the promise to free us from ourselves.
—Rachel Cusk, Second Place
For almost the entirety of last week, I thought the year was 2023. One of the people who witnessed this…enthusiasm, nodded as if it were perfectly normal and said: yeah, it’s like we’re living in dog years.
After the premiere of my animated short Chamoe and the frenzied month leading up to it, folks have been asking how does it feel to be done?? On the one hand I’ve the strange sensation of moving along a colored line by which progress can be noted only by subtle gradation. On the other hand, I feel distinctly between two things. Everything seems slow and continuous but also fast and demarcated. (This may have something to do with me not knowing what year it is.)
It’s absolutely been nice not getting up at 7am with the day blurring immediately to 9pm, when I’d have my first meal. It’s been nice to have the luxury of daydreaming, seeing friends, reading in bed when I wake, making and trimming prints. People look at you differently when you finish things, and I’m briefly enjoying that too.
The truth though is that there’s still much to be done, after being done. I’ve been submitting, and continue to submit, Chamoe to festivals and curators. I’m reflecting on how my preferences, vision, and methods have shifted because of the past 14 months. I’m writing a technical retro. I’m researching funding options. I’m starting to percolate.
WIP: Chamoe’s first rejection, general responses, reflections
For members: Miniature giclées! in a utilitarian! form
For everyone: Desktop backgrounds
I got my first rejection ❤️
from a leading voice in short film curation, Short of the Week. They added Chamoe to their Vimeo channel despite deciding not to feature the film on SOTW itself (it’s still promo and a nice consolation prize).
The main reason given for lack of “curatorial fit” was that, in their view, the film had little to offer beyond style. I disagree, obviously, but resonance is deeply personal and subjectivity is something you can’t get around. I couldn’t have wished for a better first rejection. (I take SOTW’s words around Vimeo Staff Pick with a boulder of salt, too—getting selected is very much a lottery.)
Responses to Chamoe
by and large, have not only been positive, but indicative of emotional resonance.
Chamoe premiered on May 8th, Mother’s Day; and thanks to Members, friends, and promotional partners, the film had garnered a little over 1.3K views in about 12 days. For many, the cultural significance of oral history, the beauty of doing something for someone else, the relevance of this in today’s increasingly transactional world, seemed to register at some level.
I’d wondered if the film might be too culturally specific; if non-Koreans would be able to connect easily with it. In fact, the only “I don’t get it” came from a Korean American while one of the more emotional responses came from a neighbor who happens to be Nigerian.
When I talk to other non-commercial artists or writers, the why do we do this question inevitably arises.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to connect with people through something you make, taking what only you can see, chiseling it out painstakingly over time, then proffering it to the world. Everyone is behind a scrim; when that falls away for a moment and you can suddenly see them, and they can see you—it’s emotional and intimate and crazy.
Friends and strangers telling me that they cried watching this little film, that they shared it with their mothers, or showed it to friends, or watched it five times, or can’t stop thinking about it—has been profound.
So I guess that’s one reason, for me.
it’s amazing too, to note marked growth in my work and sensibilities. As the dust settles from the premiere, I find that I’ve intentions and opinions where before, I mostly had doubts and questions. And that’s exciting.
In the spring of 2021, I had a story but wasn’t sure how I could tell it, what it should feel like, and even, if I could execute in a timely manner.
I remember being intimidated by the length—over twice that of my previous, Tuscany—and my vision for some of the animation sequences, which would contain human walk cycles, animal run-cycles, and lip synch. Before Chamoe, I‘d also relied on music to drive emotion and movement. I was anxious about working without this crutch.
When I began, I had to just put blinders on and throw myself in—struggling publicly for months and often, before I found some sort of rhythm.
I’m struck most, now, by the contrast between certainties/convictions/feelings of preparedness before, versus after, Chamoe. Between these two points are:
4 months of gestation
10 months of post/production
Over 2000 hours of labor
Over 1400 standalone paintings
Over 26,000 Photoshop layers (conservative estimate)
These numbers quantify one dimension of “experience” and “practice;” a gap that I’m now on the other side of. As I enter into a new gestational phase, I’ve strong opinions on what I want to explore, what I want to avoid or change, how fast I want to move, which way I want to go. I understand significantly more about myself, and what I’m capable of, than I did a year ago.
Here’s a comparison of the early animatic and the final film—it’s been a journey. You can see an evolution in timing and subtitles, but the action itself has remained pretty close to original vision.
To celebrate the premiere and to thank members for their support, I’m sending out miniature giclées (fancy word for archival-grade pigment print) in the very utilitarian form of bookmarks.
I wanted to gift something that feels fine, almost luxurious—but also something that could be used every day. Something that would feel good to look at, nice to touch, something with pleasing weight and color. I also wanted it to be portable. Beautiful, but easy.
These 2.75 x 5.5 inch stills from the film are printed on heavier-weight (310 gsm), gorgeously textured, German Etching fine art paper by Hahnemühle. A wider format suits these stills better, and I was inspired by the size used at my favourite bookstore in NYC. Theirs is a smidge longer; they probably used cm, I rounded to inches:
The pigment ink I’m using in conjunction with these papers has an archival longevity of up to 200 years in a photo album. Given that the bookmarks will be handled often and exposed to the elements, that gets whittled down to about 50. For extra-protection, I sealed the bookmarks with two coats—one applied horizontally, one vertically—of Hahnemühle protective spray. That should make the surface even more smudge/abrasion/UV-resistant.
There’s something gleefully decadent about using a tiny fine art print for a practical purpose. The colors are stunning and I’m in love with the texture, even after sealing.
To celebrate the culmination of Chamoe, bookmarks will also go out to new annual and founding subscribers who sign up between now and the end of May.
Member support helps keep The Line Between going, and makes it possible for me to work on an animated short every year. As always, deepest gratitude to paying subscribers for investing in my process and vision 🙏❤️
Bonus content almost every issue.
Even if you’re not a paying subscriber, I still have something for you: comment on this post with which desktop background you’d like and I’ll send it along. Thank you so much for reading!
By the way,
Angel’s Share, a beloved East Village bar that I bemoaned the closing of recently is doing a summer pop-up. Let’s go.
Until next time.
This is so awesome to see and read - I'm glad I subscribed :)
I'd love the bear background, it's the cutest !
The polar bear one is definitely my favorite book mark / background! Lovey film, I really enjoyed the animation style and narration. 🐻❄️