I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandfather, a Jewish immigrant and tailor, who worked in various high-end department stores in Manhattan. He would save the discarded scraps from the apparel he was working on and seamlessly piece together shirts and dresses for everyone in the family. I think I’ve always been drawn to textiles and their patterns for this reason. In 2018 I discovered a Book of French Textile Samples (1863) at the Public Domain Review. The rough square samples were composed in unpredictable ways on each page. I was curious about how the patterns could create a kind of narrative through movement. From there I began ‘weaving’ short animations into the bookplates. Later I moved onto other Public Domain Review featured books that intersected with my other interests in alchemy, biology, geometry, pattern poetry, atmospheric phenomenon, sound visualizations, water and wave formations and others. I try to create one animation a day and post to Instagram. This is meant both as a way to continue experimenting in animation, but also as a way to learn more about these fascinating text. I’ve amassed so many at this point, I now create small reels organized by text to screen in micro-film programs. I will be premiering the full reel of PDR animations at North Rock Center for Sculptural Arts on August 22nd.
On the 27th August 1883, on a small island in Indonesia, the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano peaked — the violent culmination of one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events in recorded history, the explosion of which was heard as far as 3000 miles away. In addition to the terrible devastation (36,000 deaths were attributed to the eruption) strange optical effects the world-over were reported, a result of the massive plume of ash and debris sent into the upper atmosphere.
Skies at the beginning and end of the day, when the sun was lowest in the sky, were particularly affected, glowing strange colours for years following the eruption and enrapturing and intriguing scientists, writers, and artists alike. Given the nature of the mystery — a scientific phenomenon expressing itself in such dramatic visuals — attempts to document and explain it often took the form of an interdisciplinary effort, both art and science working in tandem. One such example is a German book published in 1888 — Untersuchungen über Dämmerungserscheinungen: zur Erklärung der nach dem Krakatau-Ausbruch beobachteten atmosphärisch-optischen Störung, which roughly translates as “Studies on twilight phenomena: to explain the atmospheric-optical disturbance observed after the Krakatau eruption”. While most of the book is an exploration via text, by the German physicist Johann Kiessling, the final pages are given over to a wonderful series of chromolithographs from watercolour images by Eduard Pechuël-Loesche.
Pechuël-Loesche was a German naturalist, plant collector, and watercolour painter who travelled extensively, including to West Africa where he accompanied Paul Güssfeldt on the Loango Expedition of 1873–76 and played a role in the founding of the Congo state.
I wrote about the movement of people and water in El Paso/Juárez and parts of New Mexico for CityLab and the process of making an animated meander map for the Rio Grande/Río Bravo because one did not already exist and sometimes you have to make the map you want to see in the world.
Patent No. 1,385,944: “Notation for Indicating Light Effects” (1921) “The object of my present invention is to provide a score comprising names, numerals, marks, symbols, hieroglyphs, or the like, constituting a chart or record sheet for denoting or interpreting a lighting sequence or succession to accompany music,” wrote Greenewalt in this patent. It involved Greenewalt’s translation of Beethoven’s 1801 “Moonlight” Sonata into a notation readable by a Sarabet player. Full video available here with interpreted tonalities by Melissa Grey https://www.topic.com/industrial-light-and-magic
100 Partially Obscured Views, an in progress or a living film never to be permanently fixed. Premiered at the Feminist Border Arts Film Festival at NMSU in 2019 and screened at Judson Memorial Church on May 8th part of StoryLab’s “Borderlands–Visual Art from the Resistance!”
In 2015 I was awarded the Jerome Foundation Grant for an animated documentary project about El Paso and Juarez in the early 1990’s. This grant paved the way for two simultaneous projects: A topographical film essay about the border landscapes of El Paso and Juárez, the region where I grew up. The film is told entirely in gif-animated vintage postcards. I’m working with approximately 100 linen postcards ranging from the early 1900s with references to the Mexican Revolution and prohibition era bars to the 1960s after the formation of the Chamizal National Monument. These postcards were initially designed for visiting tourists to be mailed to friends and family living in other parts of the country as a continued effort to promote tourism in the region. Some of the locations repeat showing different vantages points of the same place. My collaged animations range in approach from public monuments proposals, childhood memories, the impact of current policies on people and land, and other interrogations of a border landscape that I’ve witnessed transformed into a militarized zone. This collection of postcards also denotes the transformation of an international river that has become endangered in the service of a highly militarized boundary.
El Paso and Juárez share history, share people, share each other’s gaze, they differ only because of imperialist treaties and policies, and boundary markers insist on their difference. I tried to make a film that was “trans” meaning transnational, transitional, and transient in the spirit of Anzaldua Borderlands.
In 2017 I began integrating a beautiful collection of French Textile Samples (1863) found over at The Public Domain Review into my animations.
The looped animations were then absorbed into a oulipian collaboration with l’Ao for a Multilingual Poetry Reading curated by Tansy Xiao. The project premiered at the Brooklyn Art Library 28 Frost St Brooklyn, New York on June 29th, 2018. Documentation of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-JMeKEcrog&t=29s
“The language with which I make my poems has nothing to do with one spoken here, or anywhere.” — Paul Celan
Multilingual Poetry Reading is a series of poetry reading and performance events that encourage varying interpretations of the same poems in different languages and disciplines. Special thanks to our host Brooklyn Art Library, a crowd-sourced library that features 40,609 artists’ books contributed by creative people from 135+ countries. Event Organizer: Raincoat Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting artists with fluid identities and multiple cultural backgrounds. Poems include Jorge Luis Borges, Marina Tsvetaeva, Paul Celan, Vasko Popa, Charles Pierre Baudelaire.
Fred’s Rainbow Bar and Other Stages on the International Border (working title) is an in-progress topographical film essay and archive using a variety of animation styles along with live-action and archival imagery to interrogate histories, memories, and imaginings of the border landscapes of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, the region where I grew up. The film is mostly set in the early 9o’s or the era before NAFTA and before the erection of the Border Security Fence with flashbacks to the Battle of Juárez and flashes forwards to contemporary events, like the razing of the ASARCO smelter. The International Border (or the river with two names) remains the main-frame through which events unfold. More information about the project and clips coming soon. For specific questions contact me here: nicole.antebi(at)gmail.com Visual Notes
This film was made possible in part from a generous grant from the Jerome Foundation. If you would like to support this project, please consider making a tax-deductible donation through Brooklyn Arts Council (acting fiscal project through 2018). All amounts welcome and thank you in advance for your support! -Nicole
I’ve been working with writer, Joanne McNeil on a series of five video essays that talk about internet culture.
Just Browsing is a five part series investigating what it means to be an internet user. Each episode, presented by writer Joanne McNeil, begins with a topic of inquiry and leads the audience through the narrator’s own investigation of overlapping subjects using books and a web browser. The episodes toggle between new and old forms of media along with animation and live action sequences filmed at New York’s long-standing speakeasy bookstore, Brazenhead Books.
The full series is now streaming at Labocine for a limited time.
Sneak peek of a new film collaboration with the brilliant sound artist, S Xiren Wang and commissioned by the videoartphile Leo Kuelbs Collection for a forthcoming Digital Fairytales Program curated by Leo Kuelbs and Wing Lu with Able Sun. The film is based on the ancient Chinese folktale, Cowherder and Weaver Girl. Here, I reinterpret the tale as a contemporary allegory told in the age of migration. The two star-crossed bodies, with the help of a flock of magpies, work to deconstruct the wall between land and sky and build a bridge to unite their worlds.