Public Domain Review Interventions 2018-2020

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.

Attributions by bookplate: https://www.instagram.com/nicoleantebi

Full reel: https://vimeo.com/436861361

“Studies on Twilight Phenomena, after Krakatoa” (1888) I added some animated charcoal from the fires this year (2020)

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.

2018-2019 Reel

Selections from my professional and creative test work spanning 2018-2019. Animated Essays, 2D Character Concept Animation, Clay Animation, Puppet Animation, Public Domain Review Interventions, Web Series, Educational Videos, and Book Trailer.

How I Mapped the Fluid Border Between El Paso and Juárez for CityLab

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.

View full animated essay here:

https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/08/rio-grande-map-us-mexico-border-history-el-paso-rio-bravo/596227/

Industrial Light and Magic

Mary Hallock Greenewalt received 11 patents for her “color organ,” an early form of synthesizer. She would spend the rest of her life defending them. Words and animation at https://www.topic.com/industrial-light-and-magic

Patent No. 1,357,773: “Rheostat” (1920)
The rheostat was an essential mechanism of the Sarabet. It was an electrical device that varied the resistance of the electrical current so that Greenewalt could produce smooth fade-ups and fade-outs of light as she played. In this patent application, she describes the rheostat as “compact and substantial of a commercially practicable design; relatively simple as regards the aggregate number and arrangement of its parts, and at the same time includes a series of contact blocks and moveable contact member adapted for operation by human, mechanical or automatic power.”
The rheostat would become a standard tool for electronic instruments, and when General Electric infringed on Greenewalt’s patent in 1932, she sued. At first, a judge denied hearing the case, determining that the rheostat was too complex to have been invented by a woman. This decision was overturned on appeal by Judge Hugh Morris, who described Greenewalt as “a true artist” in his decision, and she eventually won the case.

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

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.

Still image from “100 Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border”
Still image from “100 Views of the El Paso/Juárez Border”

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.

A Retelling of the Cowherder and the Weaver in the Age of Migration

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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.

World Premiere March 1, 2018 at Made in NY Media Center by IFP

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Dead Horse Bay: The Glass Graveyard of Brooklyn

“The Beach That Speaks” An Excerpt from Brian Thill’s Waste; Animated by Nicole Antebi

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Produced for “Dead Horse Bay: The Glass Graveyard of Brooklyn” curated by Allison C. Meier

February 1st – April 1st, 2017

Curated by Allison C. Meier

Opening reception: Wednesday, February 1st from 6-9pm.

On view: February 1- April 1, 2017

Exhbiting artists include: Nicole Antebi, Gerard Barbot, Alex Branch, Yael Eban, David Horvitz, Nathan Kensinger, Jackie Mock, Rose Nestler, Rachel Owens, Amanda Patenaude, Anna Riley, Mark Splatter, and Brett Swenson

It is easy to forget Dead Horse Bay exists. Cradled by a slender curve of shore on the southern edge of Brooklyn, between Marine Park and Jamaica Bay, it feels sequestered from the rest of New York City. Except every aspect of Dead Horse Bay is embedded with the city’s history, from its topography shaped by Robert Moses, to its name referencing the horse rendering plants that were among many unsavory businesses that disrupted its ecology in the 19th century. And then there’s the trash strewn on its beach, where everything not decomposed since the landfill beneath was closed in the 1930s is slowly revealed by the waves.

When walking along the shore of Dead Horse Bay, you soon hear the clinking sound of glass bottles as the Atlantic Ocean laps against the sand. On the beach, there is glass of every variety, from amber bleach jugs to delicate and clear perfume bottles, to green soda bottles, and blue medical bottles. Nowhere else in the city, perhaps, is the connection of glass to our daily lives so evident, as in this detritus of lives lived decades ago.

Dead Horse Bay is essential to explore now, as it is a site of disparate tensions. There are the plants and animals attempting to live alongside the visible pollution, and the consideration of greater planetary concerns with climate change threatening rising currents, which could submerge this strange place. And there’s the conflict between artists who use this as a resource and site of inspiration, and those who see it as protected as any federally-controlled park, even if it’s toxic litter. Finally, it’s the idea that in a city so dense, so developed, that there are these overlooked locations that remain, that are unpleasant and ignored, yet can tell us so much about our history and our individual impact on the world. Now our trash is mostly whisked away from the city, seemingly vanishing; here is evidence that it does not go away.

As an exhibition theme, Dead Horse Bay offers a chance to examine reuse of glass, the history of glassware in consumer goods, and how the sonic and tactile experience with glass at the place, in all its luminous colors, can be an unexpected muse.

About the curator: Allison C. Meier is a Brooklyn-based writer focusing on the arts and overlooked history. Currently, she is staff writer at Hyperallergic, and moonlights as a cemetery tour guide at New York burial grounds. She’s also worked as the senior editor at Atlas Obscura and has published stories for the New York Times, Art DeskARTNewsNarrative.lyBrooklyn Based, the Oklahoma Gazette, Oklahoma Today MagazineBust, and others.

Image credit: Triple Canopy and Phoebe d’Heurle

Waste by Brian Thill 2015 Bloomsbury Object Lessons 

sator, arepo, tenet, opera, rotas or Magic Square

The Sator or Magic Square: sator, arepo, tenet, opera, rotas, is a palindrome that can be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, right-to-left and in a boustrophedonic, continuous back and forth. The earliest example of the ancient phrase was found in the ruins of Pompeii and in the excavations under the church of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome. It is often referred to as a Magic Square for its historic use as a device invoked in magical incantation.

The Magic Square, a recent visual music collaboration between Melissa Grey (sound), Nicole Antebi (animation) and featuring music by electronic music pioneer, Vince Clarke, premiered at The Morbid Anatomy Museum on May 19, 2016 along with an illustrated lecture by Colin Dickey on the history of magic squares and the mystical powers of palindromes.

Animistic Thinking and Landscape: Video installation at College of the Redwoods Sept 28-Nov 5 (2015)

eucalypt still
Production stills from The Eucalypt

Press Release:

The College of the Redwoods Art Gallery will present an exhibition titled “Animistic Thinking and Landscape: Videos about California History and Mythology” by Nicole Antebi. The exhibition will run from September 28 to November 5, with a public lecture and reception for the artist on October 20.

CR Exhibit_Antebi
Installation view

This exhibition by Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Nicole Antebi features an installation of three animated experimental documentary videos with accompanying drawings, paintings, sculptural models and handmade books. Antebi works in non-fiction animation, motion graphics, and installation, and as an artist describes herself as “a student of magical thinking and landscape.” Her work investigates the ways in which our culture has embraced popular legends and mythological thinking in shaping environmental policy and how our state’s land is used. Her meticulously researched, hand-drawn video animations deftly blend both the fictional and the historical in describing distinct narratives about California history and ecology, including a story about the ceremonious arrival of the invasive Eucalyptus Tree in California, the history of the Sunol and Pulgas Water Temples in the San Francisco Bay Area, and also a curious legend surrounding William Mulholland—the controversial figure who brought water to the Los Angeles Basin in 1913. Antebi’s work is mysterious, engaging, and compelling for its level of historical accuracy, and also fascinating for its careful unearthing of some of California’s long-buried historical narratives and myths.

CR Exhibit Eucalypt
Installation view with The Eucalypt screening

Nicole Antebi’s work has been shown at Hive House Los Angeles, the High Desert Test Sites in California, The Manhattan Bridge Anchorage, Teeny Cine’s converted trailer, Portable Forest, a Texas Grain Silo, and in the cabin of a capsized ship at Machine Project in Los Angeles. In 2015, Antebi was the animator-in-residence at Circuit Bridges, New York and she has also been recently awarded a Jerome Foundation Grant in Film/Video for her animated film about El Paso and Juarez in the early 90’s.

CR Exhibit Mulholland
Handmade book covers, "Uisce" bottle and drawings from 
Uisce Beatha: A Mulholland Bestiary

Nicole Antebi will give a free public lecture about her work from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on October 20, 2015 in CA 139 in the Creative Arts Complex on the Eureka campus, with a reception in the Art Gallery to immediately follow. All are invited to attend. The exhibition runs from September 28 to November 5, 2015, and the gallery hours are Mondays and Tuesdays noon to 5:00 p.m., Wednesdays 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, please call (707) 476-4559 or visit the College of the Redwoods Gallery homepage at http://www.redwoods.edu/departments/art/gallery/

North Coast Journal Review by Gabrielle Gopinath: http://m.northcoastjournal.com/humboldt/bookish-lookish/Content?oid=3385375

Nicole and Cynthia CR
Stealing a photo with Cynthia Hooper after my talk!

Object Lessons’ Book Trailers

Book Trailer for “Questionnaire” by Evan Kindley. Published by Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons.
Animation and Sound by Nicole Antebi.
bloomsbury.com/us/questionnaire-9781501314797/

Book trailer for Ariana Kelly’s Phone Booth published by Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons Animation by Nicole Antebi, Music by David Eng http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/phone-booth-9781628924091/

Last Crow at Marienbad (2015)

I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I can make a film in a day. These quickly realized projects actually keep me excited about longer, more labor intensive films that require frame by frame focus. One day, I would like to have amassed a set of “vacation films” as a way of recalling, but also engaging with place in a way that is not just tourism. I remade the trailer to Alain Resnais’ 1961 trailer for “Last Year at Marienbad” with the two French speaking hooded crows I met while visiting the Belvedere Palace Gardens in Vienna, Austria. Editing helped passed the time on the train as we traveled between Austria and Germany. Shadows stay in the picture.