Interview with Eric Schockmel / director of SYSCAPES#PRELUDE

MACROSTRUCTURE-3    ai   eric schockmel

Eric Schockmel is a moving image artist from Luxembourg, living and working in   London, UK.

Can you describe us the reasoning behind  SYSCAPES#PRELUDE?
SYSCAPES#PRELUDE was my first year project on the MA Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins in 2007. I wanted to explore how I could display notions like urbanism, ecology, and macropolitical developments in an immersive and atmospheric 3D space, using resources that ranged from satellite imagery to close-up textures. It was really a kind of test-run and conceptual exploration of a medium which I attempted to further refine with the follow-up piece  SYSCAPES#PRELUDE of 2008.

How long did the development of your film SYSCAPES#PRELUDE take?
From the initial ideas to the finished film, I spent about 6 months working on it, keeping in mind that this was a university project and was constantly being updated and evolving, following feedback from tutors, fellow students, as well as ongoing theoretical research on my part.

What are your artistic inspirations?
Esthetically, I get a lot of inspiration from scientific imagery. In terms of narrative, science fiction is a huge influence, and when it comes to designing 3D spaces, animation, and interaction between on-screen elements, I draw ideas from video games.

Can you describe what was most challenging about shooting an animated film?
The most challenging part of this particular project was definitely the technical side. I had tried out 3D with still images before, and a little bit of 2D animation in Flash (remember this was a long time ago), but hadn’t actually done a real 3D animation project. So I set out to do this short film, working in a very limited software (DAZ Bryce) compared to what other packages can do today, and rendered everything out on a rather slow laptop. That took ages.

How do you see the role of an independent artist nowadays?
Since the appearance of affordable software packages, fast internet, and platforms like Vimeo or Youtube, especially moving image makers have really easy access to all the necessary tools to make and show their work. Personally I think keeping a connection to the physical world though is necessary as well. I like to adapt my animations (or indeed create new ones) into physical multi-screen installations, because there is just something different about experiencing a moving image work in a specific location. The audience perhaps takes more time to let a work settle in, compared to the online world, where we’re always tempted by countless distractions. So artists should use both online and “away from keyboard” ways in a complementary way.

What projects are you working on at the moment and what is your dream project that you would like to work on in the future?
At the moment I’m developing an animated documentary of which I hope I can share some more information in the near future. I’m also currently working on a mini-series entitled What If You Created Artificial Life And It Started Worshipping You which includes installation designs, still images and prints in addition to short film episodes. The first episode, called Macrostructure is already done and on the way to festivals. This project is a direct continuation of the  Syscapes process, which indeed started with SYSCAPES#PRELUDE.

Screening films online – what are your thoughts about that? What do you think is the future of web and films?
Web and films are really becoming interconnected and it opens up amazing possibilites. From free-to-watch, to video-on- demand, and interactive films getting really popular, there are now so many different niches for showing work the way that is tailored to individual projects and workflows, that I think the discipline is maturing.

And finally, what do you think about EuroIFC?
I think it’s great to have a variety of different moving image channels out there. Each one comes with a certain voice and curatorial decisions, which helps to frame individual works, giving them a voice in conjunction with the pieces that surround them, much like a traditional exhibition. In that sense, EuroIFC has found its own niche and I hope it can continue to evolve and make great stories available to audiences.

You can watch the film SYSCAPES#PRELUDE here.