Frame by Frame

Many of my experiments with video have used stop motion, and more specifically pixilation, to make visible, the effort our brains perform to interpret a series of continuous still images displayed serially on a screen, as a depiction of real movement. To make this function obvious, I have consciously left the marks of the film making process visible in the finished film. Some of these experiments have been very formal, with simple objects mimicking movement, and in others I have used myself as a stop motion puppet, also introducing narrative, to show how we humans also can’t help interpreting everything we see as in some way meaningful and containing cause and agency.

Actionpainting by Tobias Sternberg on Vimeo. 2012, 0’50”.

What would a young artist NOT do, to get noticed in the cut-throat art business? This sleight of hand, playfully produced pixilated animation explores the need for artists to always come up with something more outrageous, something more sensational, to stay ahead and get attention. Actionpainting was made using very simple means, and special effects of the kind already invented by George Mélies, creating an illusion the audience can at the same time see through and enjoy, but the humour is cruel, dark and contemporary. The next film, Back to the Source, is a continuation on this theme.

Back to the source by Tobias Sternberg on Vimeo. 2012, 0’45”.

The following two films are the results of much more formal experiments I did, developing a system of moving objects in space using stop-motion, relying on trigonometry on an Excel sheet combined with three measuring tapes that could be shortened and lengthened to position a ball.

xyz by Tobias Sternberg on Vimeo. 2007, 0’51”.

Fwd:Rev by Tobias Sternberg on Vimeo. 2007, 1’15”.

Directed by Constraint

In three early films, I explored how I could exchange the acting of a protagonist on film, with real, physical constraints, creating a half real – half fictional struggle, playing out on the screen. I started out with a feeling or situation I wanted to convey, then set up the circumstances that would force this idea to materialize when confronted with a live performer, and finally inserted myself into the situation. I used myself, not as an actor, but as the “Everyman”, a place holder for the viewer to imagine themselves in the same situation.

The Physical Impossibility of Eating a Banana by Tobias Sternberg on Vimeo. 2003, 4’30”.

In this film I wanted to see what would happen if I introduced a very simple obstruction to an everyday act. By putting a lady stocking over my head while eating, I effectively created a both futile and funny situation. In the film, I am actually trying to do my best to eat the banana. I don’t have to act the failure, since the set-up provides me with an impossible situation. Wearing a uniform and adopting a stiff posture, for me highlights the stupidity of the attempt.

An Attempt by Tobias Sternberg on Vimeo. 2003, 5’39”.

In this film two masked men drag me down a dark corridor, and then try to drown me in a bathtub. They inevitably fail since I am wearing a snorkel and their instruction is not to take it off. The snorkel turns the fiction of the situation into reality. The struggle is no longer a faked or acted sequence. The snorkel allows the other actors to ruthlessly push me under the surface without considering the consequences. I on the other hand can experience total defeat and being helplessly overpowered in a controlled and safe environment. And it is this defeat and vulnerability I wanted to express by setting up the whole situation.


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