Author Archives: nemetschke

Process Blog- Fortschritt Take II

Revising a film can be really difficult, especially when you spent a lot of time creating it. But nevertheless, this process gave me the chance to develop a new concept to express the message of the poem in a better way.

1st step: Getting Feedback

Since I was involved in every single step of the creation of this assignment, the workshop in class offered the opportunity to get to know the impressions of people who only watched the final product. The positive feedback and the constructive criticism helped me to realize what the audience liked about the stop motion and what aspects could be presented in a different way.

2nd step: Rethinking the Concept

Due to the fact that it was almost impossible to reconstruct the setting of the scene and that every little change could easily be recognized by the audience, I decided to use the power of editing to change the message of the film. one of the main point of criticism was the fact that the video was longer than the recording. While editing the first draft, I was so proud of all my shots that I didn’t want to cut out any of them. But revising the footage, I realized that sometimes less is more. So one of my goals was to match the images with the sound. But which scenes should I remove? After thinking about the content of the poem again, I came to the conclusion that it does not necessarily indicate a circulation of change. Therefore, I decided to go without the destruction of the “city” at the end. Instead, I wanted the image of the erected buildings to be the last one of my film. In order to underline the theme of progress, I put the clip of the cup getting unwrapped right at the beginning.

I am very happy that I took the chance to change the original film because I think that the final version has much more expressive power!

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Ars Poetica

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer  you: I am here to live out loud.” – Emile Zola

I’ve always loved to draw, paint and write and I’ve tried to develop my skills throughout the years  by reading books, comparing famous artists and – of course – by practicing. But does this devotion already make me an artist? Honestly, I’m not quite sure. In order to answer this question it is important to ask: What is art?? It’s a fact that art lacks a proper definition. Three simple letters try to express a progress going on since the dawn of mankind. If I asked ten different people on the street  how to explain the term, I would probably get ten an a half different answers. I think there is a reason why we cannot define art. Maybe the secret of art is the variety of its interpretations. For me, being an artist is not a certain condition but more a journey through life. Well, I guess in this regard I can consider myself to be some kind of artist or at least to be on my way there.  Now, what does art mean to me? Why do I want it to be part of my life?

I.  Creating a world…MY world

No matter if you make a film, take a photo, paint or write, you do not only express the world around you. You also express your opinion and experiences and therefore your whole personality. I think, art provides me with the freedom to present myself in a way that goes beyond the limits of language, communication or distance. But only because you can find a part of me in my artistic work, it does not necessarily mean that everyone who gets in touch with it will understand how I think or who I am. At this point I agree with two of our in class visitors, Jimmy Joe Roche and Adam Grey: art doesn’t need a purpose and no message needs to be conveyed. If the spectator recognizes something of himself in a piece of art and starts interpreting it in his own way, he adds a new dimension to the artwork but he does not take away the expression of my personality.

II.  The Child Within

Growing up means to start bearing responsibility, focusing on your future and showing that you can apply all the knowledge you’ve learned so far. But do you remember how you saw the world as a kid? Some months ago my mother showed me a video she had made when I was two years old. The word I used the most (27 times in 5 minutes footage) was “WHY?” When we are little, everything around us is a miracle that is worth being explored. Our imagination has no limits; a sheet and an old mattress is all we need to go on a safari or to be a pirate fighting against a storm. As adults we think we would understand the world around us because we’ve studied sciences that tell us the rules everything seems to conform with. To me, being an artist means to preserve the child within me. I try to consider things from a different point of view.  But seeing the world through the eyes of a child does not mean to act immature. I think it means to cross the limits of rational ways of thinking and to question phenomena or things we usually take for granted. A child is never satisfied with a simple answer, it will always continue asking “why?”.  Moreover, I want to make art that surprises people. That’s why I was very impressed by the films of Werner Herzog. He managed to mislead the expectations of his audience. Therefore, he got his message in a very unconventional way across. Usually the audience can predict the moral of a plot and is prepared for a certain ending. But the fact that in his films the images clash with the text or the music makes it impossible to tell in what direction the film is heading.

III.  Just Do It!

My biggest mistake in the last few years was to let my insecurity about my skills take over my excitement about art. I usually wanted to wait until I was better before putting a good idea into practice because I thought the outcome would be not as well executed as possible.  Fortunately, I have realized that the only way to improve my skills is to plunge in at the deep end and to allow myself to make mistakes. This is the only way to find my own personal way of art, my strengths and my weaknesses!

IV. Art as Part of My Life

What I have experienced within the last couple of years is the fact that creativity cannot be scheduled. Sometimes I plan to draw or to write at a certain time but the moment I sit down my head is empty –  no idea where to begin or what to develop, while sometimes I feel very creative and full of energy when I am supposed to focus on other activities.  My goal for the future is to take my time for any kind of creative impulses and to be prepared to jot down ideas whenever and wherever they come to my mind…maybe I  should start carrying a notebook with me!

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Fortschritt – Process Blog

The first challenge was picking the right poem that could be interpreted in the form of a stop motion film – not only regarding the rhythm but also the content. Since I wanted to experience the visualizing of German poetry and since I’ve always enjoyed reading Rilke, I decided to choose the poem called “Fortschritt” (“Progress”). There are, of course, numerous ways of interpreting but I decided not to take the lines literally but instead to connect it with a more current issue like urbanization. Next, the questions that arose were how to build up a “city” and how to convey the message that “nothing is more constant than change”? The answer struck me while I was having breakfast drinking coffee. Wouldn’t the cups serve perfectly as little buildings? Due to my increased consumption of caffeine and the help of my friends, I soon had enough cups to get started. I just had to buy scissors, aluminium foil and blue paper and I was ready for filming.

The shooting was probably the most difficult part of the process. First, I had to cut the cups in order to get the effect of the city constructing itself and I had to find the perfect spot for the camera so that only the blue background would be in the frame. To see how the city develops, I thought it would be best to start with the picture of a single cup and to introduce the other elements step by step. I tried to change the angle of the camera from time to time so that the audience could really get in touch with the environment of the scene and, moreover, it was a great trick to keep  the continuity of the shots up whenever I accidentally deranged the cups or moved the tripod. I wanted to cover the “buildings” with silver foil as a symbol of progress. Therefore, I had to wrap all the props with aluminium foil. Honestly speaking, that was a huge effort and really time-consuming but now, knowing how it turned out, I can say that it was worth it.  To show the circulation of change, I decided that the last picture should again be the image of the single cup. So I had to destroy the little city and although I felt a bit sorry to damage what I had just created, it was kind of fun.

This time the editing was less complicated because working with stills is definitely easier than with longer clips. While matching the sound with the visuals, an idea occurred to me. What about emphasizing the message of the film by using special video filters? After trying different kinds of effects, my final choice was to start the video uncolored and then colorizing it in the middle right before the foil came up!

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Fortschritt

A Stop Motion Film based on the poem “Fortschritt” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

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Behind the Scenes

A Dream Within a Dream, Video by Adhiraj Goel and Alexandra Nemetschke on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

1.) Brain-Storming

A dream within a dream. What might be the best way to adapt these special lines written by Edgar Allan Poe to the screen? Well,  we first broke the poem down into several sections which seemed to belong together in order to think about individual shots. Soon it became clear that the visuals had to refer to the confusing mood of this piece of poetry, so we decided to show a blurred scene in a wood at the beginning of the film. Moreover, we thought about a clock and  a door as symbols of mortality and finality. In the second stanza the main themes are change and evanescence and while talking about the vanishing grains of sand, the idea of someone sitting in a bath tub trying to hold on to bubbles came into our minds.

2.) Into The Wild

In the second phase, we grabbed the camera and started looking for appropriate settings in order to turn our ideas into great footage. You will not believe how long it can take to find a working clock on the campus on Sundays. Well, at least it was very easy to find enough trees for the opening scene. The next day we went to Adhiraj’s house where his roommate agreed to be our actor (Thanks again). We actually had a lot of fun shooting these scenes as we had to think about ways to show something usual like a bathroom from a new perspective including different angles and light. Moreover, the bubbles worked really well as a symbol for impermanence.

3.) Ready For Editing

After having some troubles with rendering our files, we decided to edit on “Sony Vegas” instead of “Final Cut Pro” which turned out to be much quicker and more effective. Due to the fact that we  had already talked about the exact order of the scenes in the first phase and Adhiraj’s familiarity with the program we made rapid progress. Unfortunately, we had some problems with rendering again in the end but nevertheless we are very happy with the result of our short film and we hope you enjoy watching it!

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What Annoys Me…

…about ART is the fact that it has lost more and more of its functions in the course of time. Just think about cave paintings dating back to the stone age: they provided information about the regional flora and fauna and were therefore relevant to survive! Nowadays art can’t save lives anymore, this is now the duty of modern technology, medicine and so on.  Moreover, art has often fulfilled the function of religious worship. In order to express their love and respect people from all over the world constructed wonderful buildings, painted masterpieces or composed majestic pieces of music.  Also the idea of making use of art in order to bring about change has lost its value within the last decades. Why trying to paint a picture to signal the need for a new way of thinking when it takes only a few minutes to create a group on Facebook that everyone around the globe can join?…Although all  these aspects are still a little part of today’s art wold, the most important function is of course to entertain. Producers of movies spend more time on creating impressive  special effects than thinking about elaborate dialogues. The audience prefers cheesy flicks with predictable plots and stereotypical characters to high-minded artistic work because they are looking for distraction, not another cause for thought!

…about ARTISTS.  Nowadays, it is hard to tell where the line between real art and amateur art should be drawn. Everyone with a DSLR considers himself to be a photographer, everyone with a video camera on his phone and an editing program is a filmmaker and everyone can share their paintings, photos and even songs via the Internet. Most of today’s singers or artists started their careers with a single upload of one of their songs or movies. This phenomenon has, of course, advantages as people from all over the world are connected, cultures get mixed up, barriers are pulled down and ideas can be presented to a worldwide audience. But on the other hand, it has led to commercial art work only produced to please the rank and file and to make a big amount of money by getting overpaid advertising contracts with famous brands. It is no longer important to know one’s craft in case there is a number of people supporting your “art”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

…about “ART CONNOISSEURS”.  (I do not exclude myself from the following criticism, I have to confess that I do sometimes fall into the same patters that are described in the next paragraph; nevertheless: it really annoys me!) These days, everyone considers himself to be an expert in almost every field of life and everyone has an opinion on really everything, no matter if they have ever heard about it or not.  So when it comes to the discussion about art, a certain movie, a photograph etc. people tend to come up with random sublime words they picked up from an article, a commercial or a conversation. But in fact they do not really know what they are talking about.  Seriously, just because you skimmed through a Wikipedia post, it doesn’t mean you should feel free to think you know how to interpret every piece of art.

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Fortschritt (Progress)

Und wieder rauscht mein tiefes Leben lauter,
als ob es jetzt in breitern Ufern ginge.
Immer verwandter werden mir die Dinge
und alle Bilder immer angeschauter.
Dem Namenlosen fühl ich mich vertrauter:
Mit meinen Sinnen, wie mit Vögeln, reiche
ich in die windigen Himmel aus der Eiche,
und in den abgebrochnen Tag der Teiche
sinkt, wie auf Fischen stehend, mein Gefühl.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

(And once again the depths of my life rush onward,
as if they were moving in wider channels now.
Things are becoming more close to me
and all images more thoroughly looked upon.
I feel more comfortable with that which is nameless,:
With my senses, as with birds, I reach up
into the windy heavens out of the oak,
and in those pools broken off from the day,
my feeling, as if standing on fishes, descends.)

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This is one of my favourite poems because it deals with the progress of life. Nothing remains the same, everything changes all the time whether we can see it or not. The narrator starts looking at the objects of his environment with different eyes. Was first was unknown, now feels very familiar. But he also makes sure that progress is a bit beyond that:  change is not limited to the external world,  it comes from within!

Moreover, I chose “Fortschritt” by Rainer Maria Rilke because I think the content seizes the underlying idea of a stop motion film.  STOP. MOTION. Isn’t it a contradiction in terms? Can something static be in motion? The weakness of our eyes makes it possible.  However, you can find such contraries in the poem, too. Can our feelings descend in pools broken off from the day?? Well, the strength of our imagination makes it possible!

While I was reading the poem, the image of a bridge came into my mind. On the one hand it demonstrates progress, and on the one hand it shows  that change doesn’t only mean to construct a monument stone by stone.  A bridge has to be built up from two sides, so it is a symbol of cooperation and team work in order to put up something very persistent.

“Nothing is more constant than change.” I really like this saying as it indicates that the only thing we should get used to is change itself. Nothing lasts forever, as soon as one process ends another one starts.  It’s another oxymoron that represents the deeper meaning of this poem!

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