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.
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.
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