Nigrin: Your short animated experimental film Panta Rei (everything is in flux) is a wild ride that takes viewers inside their own minds and out into the universe. Tell us what motivated you to make this film.
KWA: I am motivated by the social psychology of how people perceive things and then react or respond to those perceptions. From my side, I desire a deep inner questioning of those perceptions, considered responses and many fewer “knee jerk” reactions from my fellow humans. I have found that placing people in a cinema full of aesthetically pleasing unidentifiable sights and sounds tends to help produce my desired outcome there. With Panta Rhei (everything is in flux) I am suggesting a view that “Life is flow" in constant flux is a perspective worthy of consideration. That this childlike part of all of us which wishes to have certainty without doubt, results without experiments, success without failure… be wholly rejected and supplanted with "Nothing ever is, everything is becoming"; "All things are in motion like streams"; "All things are passing, and nothing abides"; (Plato, Cratylus)
Nigrin: So, you called your film Panta Rei to evoke the teachings of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus?
KWA: I created the picture to evoke a perspective/outlook of "life/everything is flow" held within the philosophy of Panta Rhei which is widely attributed to Heraclitus. Another way of saying this is “Mobilis in mobili”: moving within moving element, moving within motion, changing with change…Everything is continually on the move, spiraling, shifting…. All things are passing and nothing abides…
While from a cosmological perspective this is abundantly obvious, there is a powerful countervailing force within the human psyche that has a very different view point. Jung describes this as: "Something in us wishes to remain a child, to be unconscious or, at most, conscious only of the ego; to reject everything strange, or else subject it to our will…"
"We want to have certainties and no doubts - results and no experiments - without even seeing that certainties can arise only through doubt and results only through experiment..." (Stages of Life)
I believe what Jung describes above is a major cause of human neurosis and with this picture I am seeking to help relieve it with a much more cosmological perspective and expectation.
Nigrin: How did you create the trippy special effects for your film?
KWA: In creating these pictures, I use source material that reflects the concepts at hand, i.e. if one the ways of describing the philosophy of Panta Rhei is “All things are in motion like streams” conducting motion image experiments using flowing liquid as source lends itself to the concept… I view the lens as an eye and the camera as an interpretive brain to that eye. It’s my job to get that eye and brain to see things no one has seen before and then combine those things together for an interesting new perspective. Holding true to those precepts, most of the heavy lifting is done in camera and in compositing multiple clips together simultaneously. In editing the picture, I transitioned its sections together using effects that changed the perspective of each section but never its actual contents (i.e. zoom in, turn the frame…) in order to hold true to the captured and composited moving images.
Nigrin: The soundtrack for your film is pretty amazing. Tell us more about it.
KWA: Thank you... I have found that in order for the viewer to be willing to suspend their perceptual bases (to the degree I am asking) the sound has to somehow completely bond to the image in every imaginable way. By that I mean this unseen sight has to have an unheard sound that maps precisely to what it is... how and when it moves and flows... As I am seeking something that has never been heard that somehow corresponds to the concept of the picture and the moving images themselves; I exclusively use synthesizers, as they are particularly adept at creating entirely new sounds from whole cloth. Each segment of the picture has a myriad of sounds/tracks, which correspond with its concept/flow, that are created and recorded while watching that segment of the film. The harmonics of those tracks are then mixed/composited in a way I feel “speaks” to what that piece of the picture is saying/doing. I have found this process thoroughly bonds the sound to the moving image to the degree that if I only see the picture, I hear its sound and vice versa...
Nigrin: Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you would like to relay to us?
KWA: It has been very interesting watching people while they watch the picture. For groups of people watching together it is often like a rollercoaster ride they are on together; For individual people watching alone its often like watching someone have a solemn speechless conversation with themselves…
Panta Rei (everything is in flux) screens at the Fall 2022 New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 30 as part of the Shorts Program. It will play Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey. To buy tickets go here:
For General Info on the Film Festival go here: https://watch.eventive.org/newjerseyfilmfestivalfall2022