Experimental Animation Projects (2016)

I have been manually experimenting with making animations in Photoshop by layering images to create the set designs for a virtual 3-D installation space that narrates an anthropological concept that I am envisioning. In these animations, I have used certain culturally iconic images (of figurines, furniture, pottery, plants, and manipulated renderings of my own paintings and drawings in the form of 3-D sculptures or wallpaper of the installation space) from Myanmar, Thailand, China and Vietnam to create a virtual reality that is aesthetically dreamlike and surreal. It is the oasis I have created out of my own imagination and deep feelings of homesickness for Southeast Asia, where I have grown up. The animations are reflections on artifacts arranged in “wonder cabinets,” or “wonder rooms,” which were popular during the Renaissance.

I plan to make experimental animations that are time-based explorations of different narrative spaces threaded together. "The Kitchen Scene" is the first animation I made, where I have used cultural icons, such as East Asian amulets and other spiritual or sacred objects. The animations are reflections on artifacts arranged in "wonder cabinets," or "wonder rooms." These "wonder rooms" are collections of curiosities, microcosms of the known world, filled from floor to ceiling with artifacts, and were the predecessors to contemporary natural history museum. However, in the case of my work, the "wonder rooms" are not wonderlands containing miniaturized European gentility, but a microcosm of the world where I come from - Vietnam. An example of a "wonder room" that I have created is "Halo," a set design that maps out my idea for a real-life multi-media installation:

“Halo" (2016, 21"x27", set design)

A set design that maps out my idea for a real life multimedia installation, inspired by reflections that I have written on intergenerational oral history as testimony's role in trauma research. The space, as mapped out in the set design, is a 3D interpretation of the personal accounts on grappling with military control, which I have heard from family members who had lived through colonial wars in Vietnam. I have made the sculpture (bottom right corner) on 3D Builder, out of a painting that is an abstract rendering of the Mekong Delta's topography. The walls of the installation are made of my works on paper. The left wall (red) is a painting reflecting on the deaths resulting from racist law enforcement in the East Bay, CA. The right wall (black) is a drawing I have made as meditation on my grandfather's guerrilla fighting experience as a Viet Cong in Vietnam. The basket, grass patches and walls are metaphorical reminders of the human bodies and landscapes that have been colonized.

"Wonder Cabinet #1" (Pink Room with flowers, drapes and artifacts)

Another set design, which inspires the animation that I created called "The Kitchen Scene." 

The Kitchen Scene (2016, 02:03 mins, video)