Cloacinae is the name of the roman goddess of the first sewer of modern civilization, the cloaca maxima, in Rome. And a animation about finance and hygiene. Money and the sewer; connecting everybody.
A cent falls down the drain….Head or tail? Head. From this head grows a body. And this body has to find it's way out to the world above where he plays a minor role in the monetary system. In the sewer system he will make all kinds of encounters with figures that will teach him about values, the beauty and the dirty. He starts wondering if he wouldn't be better off down there.
What's so special about this project?
For Cloacinae we will use various pre-cinematografic technologies in combination with Chinese shadow figures. Penakistiscopes and zoetropes are devices from the earliest days of pre-cinema where a rotating image leads to an animation. There will be no speech in this film.
For this project I will collaborate with the Norwegian filmmaker Sverre Fredriksen who has done several experiments with animating ice. The semi transparent quality of ice and the same qualities that the shadow-puppets have, seems to be a perfect match.
Besides that we will need to create a wet, slippery and dirty sewer world, we will use melting and freezing ice to achieve this.
All puppets have been made and are being played by Chinese puppeteers. The simple white screen they traditionally use seems to work perfectly as 'blue-screen'. During the spring of 2014 I was in China to film most of the scenes with the idea to place them later in the ice-sewer that we will built in my studio. To my big surprise nobody has every made a animation unsing the colorful Chinese shadow-figures.
Working with chinese shadow-figures
While researching the shadow in the arts, I discovered the art of shadow-puppetry as it's being practiced in China for more then a century. In the Netherlands most people are familiar with the less older, Indonesian version, the wajang.
In 2012 I was invited to work for 6 months in Beijing to study this prehistoric form of cinema. As most Chinese art forms, the cultural revolution had his destructive influence on its culture. During the cultural revolution shadow puppetry was only aloud as communist propaganda. When these dark days where over, little was left of this oral and rural culture. Today only few people mostly in rural areas, are trying hard to keep it alive.
It's folk-art and very few people in super fast growing modern China seems to realize this is the oldest source of moving projected image known to man. Much older then the 17e century, dutch invention, the magic lantern.
The major difference between the Chinese shadowtheater and other Asian shadow art-forms are it's bright colors. The animal skin, donkey or cow, have been treated in such a way that they have turned transparent. After this a long process, of keeping the skin flat and stiff is being proceeded, before it's being painted with ink. When this is done and the figure is being posed between a light source and a surface an image is being projected. The accurate translation of the word shadowfigure, in chineese the word 'pí yĭng' is 'an image that cannot be picked up' and not shadow. This could also be an image in a mirror or some other reflection. In other words; Shadow-figures create projections and not shadows.
Everywhere I came, doing my research, I was most warmly welcomed my the puppeteers. This lead quickly to close collaborations, in which they would cut out figures according to my design. After this they would teach me how to paint and play them. I looked around for musicians that had a similar approach towards Chinese music instruments. Meaning doing something contemporary with old instruments.This lead to some performances around the Beijing art-world. After I had returned slowly the idea started to grow to make an animation; Cloacinae
Pipa and ehru
The soundtrack will be composed by the Chinese multi instrumentalist Li Daiguo from Yunnan province. He plays many different asian instruments such as the pipa and the ehru to create a very contemporary sound. Once the film is ready, we will do some live performances together.
Visual arts and animation
As a visual artist animation takes an important role in my work. I've always been very interested in the earliest moving primitive images such as kaleidoscopes, phenaticoscopes, shadows, etc. In a time when moving image are everywhere and mean nothing special anymore, I am fascinated by the earliest attends to create motion pictures. These images are still magical to me. So far I have used all these old technologies in my art in exhibitions or integrated in installations that I have shown around the world. Working with shadow has always been in combination with live music.
The 1 cent coin has interested me for a number of years. It's money, but almost nothing. It has some value, but too little. It's irritating money.The cent is the least popular coin in any monetary world, a valueless being that circulates with difficulty. Its economic worthlessness liberates it from responsibility. I have used these contradictions in several pieces over the years to say something about the meaning of 'value'. In 2013 I made the book the Lost Cent. A kind of graphic novel with a hole pierced all the way through it. This was about the absence of a cent (like in the price 0,99 cents). This film will be about the presence of a cent. The coin that doesn't know its place.
Expectations are that this film will be shown around the world.In the animation world as in the art world. With or without the actual shadow-figures. Off course this film will also be shown in China, where people are very curious to see the final result. This will be the very fist time in film history that a film is being made using this oldest form of moving image.
Not only in the arts, the most important things cannot be expressed with money. For this reason I find crowd-funding, when many different people from around the world make a donation, adding to the whole meaning of this particular project and help make this happen.Cinecrowd will be very helpfull to get us closer to make this happen. So far we have received grands from the Mondriaan Foundation and we are waiting for an answer from the dutch film fund.
If everything goes well the film can be released early 2015.
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