For anyone who’s experienced the impending dread that accompanies graduating from art school, or any other non-vocational course, Alex Moy’s latest animation is sure to resonate. Previously based in Chicago, the animator moved to New York City after completing his studies. “While it was very exciting, it was also very overwhelming. There was a lot happening and I needed a way to slow down,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Coming out of school there was a large sense of aimlessness that accompanied a feeling of imposter syndrome, and I think I needed a way to process all of it.”
Alex’s latest work Idle, Torrent was produced in direct response to this uncomfortable feeling. It began as an exercise in which Alex would sit and breathe, creating freely. “It was first a tool to find perspective and open myself up to embracing the change,” he explains.
As a result, the short film is an intuitive musing on this tumultuous time. Although free from any real narrative, it presents what appears to be several characters morphing and shifting into one another through a series of colourful transitions. “The characters are all really the same character throughout the piece,” Alex points out. “Each time there is a break in the film, the character sits with them-self and it acts as a moment to breathe and reflect before the next wave comes.” This constant shift, in turn, represents growth and patience with oneself.
Alex created the central character through a series of line drawings in his first week in New York. “I remember sitting on the floor of my empty bedroom and staring into a mirror during a phone interview for a position I was very under-qualified for,” he recalls. “I started absentmindedly doodling, where I was simplifying my own posture into these mechanical line drawings.”
When producing the animation itself, Alex started with this character, producing the short in a loose manner. The piece fluctuates between two modes: open stillness and chaotic movement, and the colour palette, inspired by Alex’s childhood, reflects this sentiment. “I’m biracial, so I spent a large portion of my childhood with my family in Chinatown. The colours were loud enough to be felt but not overwhelming to where the viewer is locked onto one part of the composition, so it’s felt, but can still be digested,” he adds. Once the visuals were solidified, Alex worked with sound designer Bryan Natalio whose contribution creates an atmosphere of calm and serenity.
Idle, Torrent presents an interesting juxtaposition to the last piece of Alex’s work we wrote about, Wanderer, a short full of agonising tension and weird, even somewhat creepy scenes. Alex points out some similarities when questioned about this shift in style, however. “Wanderer and Idle, Torrent both follow a similar, cyclical structure – they both end where they begin, but Wanderer was much more crowded or anxious, and the result is more provocative.” Idle, Torrent on the other hand, he explains, “is more about being comfortable with that anxiety and working to understand it rather than push it away or dip into escapist behaviours. They’re two sides of the same coin.”
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