How we set the table back on its legs. Project idea; paintings and animated vignettes; a new Manhattan patisserie.
I find it marginally helpful to remember that I can choose to act and work and, yes, write as though there is a future, a more just one—and if I do that, perhaps I’ll be one small step closer to believing in it.
—Nicole Chung, “When You Can’t Find the Words”
There’s a French verb that almost absurdly keeps coming to mind as I sit here: bouleverser. It means “to upset, upend”(I always visualize a table flip) but it hints at something more protracted than its English equivalent. The tumbling of the syllables—boo-lay-ver-say—slows down the overturning of the laden table; the sudden reversal of gravity now an excruciating engagement of unknown duration.
As I send out a newsletter on the heels of yet another cataclysmic headline, I’ve been weighing what I do and what I want to make, in the context of this time and place. Ideas have been coalescing for a potential project but I find myself grappling with the charge to tell “timely” stories about “relevant” topics. This eventually leads to thoughts around how best, how “correctly” to use my time and body in a time of catastrophe. That in turn brings me to the inevitable “how timely and relevant is it to make art? At all?”
And this is what—for me—if not exactly unbouleverses, at least puts, the table back on its legs. Again from the above-quoted essay by Nicole Chung:
And yet a piece of art or writing doesn’t necessarily exist to meet or react to one particular moment—often it will speak to many different people in many different ways over the duration. Think of how frequently you’ve identified with or found new meaning in something written by someone who never saw the time we’re living in. As a reader, you might find what you need in one of the many pieces being published right now. Or maybe you’ll find sustenance or solace in something written a hundred years ago, as if those words were waiting for you this whole time.
WIP: potential direction for next film; research; animated vignettes with sound collage
Provisions: exhibit of fantastic drawings by an architect; a novel for summer; an easy-to-read mini newsletter about finances and the market
NYC gem: a new Korean-French patisserie in Manhattan
Potential direction & animated vignettes
This is a newsletter about creative process. I just premiered my animated short Chamoe; in the months before I commit to another project you’ll get a peek at how I rest, experiment, and home in on an idea before I gear back up.
First, some news: Chamoe has been selected for its first film festival. I’ll share more by the end of the month once it’s announced. Also, I’ll soon be setting the film to “private” on Vimeo to comply with submission requirements for another festival. Please enjoy Chamoe before it’s locked; it’ll be publicly accessible again in 2023.
I’ve been vetting the Korean War for my next animated short film (I hinted at this back in March), exploring memory and manifestations.
I know—real light stuff.
I’m gonna continue to skew obscure about details because one, I don’t have ‘em yet and two, I don’t want to describe unformed concepts when I can spend time helping them take shape instead. Lastly, it’s just one direction, and about which I’ve reservations. But I can and will describe how I’m navigating the murk.
Mainly, I’m consuming a ton and living in my sketchbook.
One of my reservations about following this Korean War thread is that it’s going require spending a lot of time thinking about, and expressing, trauma. Do I—does anyone—really need another heavy, dark thing in these low times? Do I really want to live and breathe this for months, maybe years?
It’s clear though that the idea wants to come out in some way and I haven’t been able to get away from it. If I do decide to pursue this next (which I very well may not), my hope is that whatever I end up making can be provocative versus closed, delivering on multiple levels versus just be a depressing dead end.
The Korean War is broad territory and my knowledge beyond the personal and specific is extremely limited. In addition to the intimidating scope of the topic, I question the value of interiority (especially mine), and the personal lens, as a way to engage with it.
I’m also obviously not going to become an expert at anything in a handful of months, but I’m starting at high altitude and will scope in from there.
Some of what I’m consuming appears to be at a good level of remove from the war. My long-held thesis is that these diasporic writers and artists share a wound, and are currently, and will continue to be, affected by the war—even if they may not consciously attribute their circumstance or conditions to a 70+ year old war.
As I consume, I’ve been generating sketches and writing notes without anchoring to any linear narrative:
I like to return to an idea or an image multiple times, spending time with them in different ways. Images come as I read and mull over what I take in, and these single-frame sketches are good fodder for things like short animated loops (1 to 2 seconds). Animating and reviewing concepts in turn help me plumb ideas further, and can generate momentum.
Each loop alone didn’t move me forward much, but when I reviewed them together as a single thematic sequence, there was a synergic spark. All of a sudden every vignette made more sense; they were each “bigger,” more meaningful in the context of a larger body. I could imagine the story growing into something more.
With sound, the sequence produced even more sparks.
Below, members can take a look at the video of the vignettes as a single sequence, with an extra vignette, and sound. Plus, other gems I’ve been taking in, in NYC and elsewhere: a gorgeous graphite and ink exhibit, a summer novel, a new patisserie.
Everyone else, see you in 2 weeks!
I’ve previously not been a fan of paywalls. I’m finally giving in because they make access to bonus content less cumbersome for paying subscribers. I don’t plan on hiding primary content behind them though; free subscribers will continue to have access to most of what I share. Anyone can of course pay to support this newsletter, to enjoy bonus stuff at any time ❤️🙏