When animator Alexandre Louvenaz pictures people watching his animations, he likes to “imagine that somebody will start to laugh at me,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Maybe they’ll think it’s ugly or out of date, and suddenly, after a few seconds, they’ll start to understand that there’s a kind of dark humour or strange meaning about it.”
Facilitating this kind of experience for his viewers has been Alexandre’s intention since studying, hilariously describing the aim of every animation student in art school as “trying to make people cry”. Watching his fellow peers do this, the animator recalls a particular experience of watching an animation on “the story of a son who grew up without his father because the father was the pilot of the moon”. The intention was for the film to be emotional, but “after a couple of minutes everyone started giggling,” because despite its narrative the film’s treatment “was so bad that it was good”. From this moment, Alexandre’s aesthetic was set in his head: to create a “terrible feeling both fresh and uncomfortable,” he explains. “I love the gap between these two points. Because in the end, people get pleasure our of watching it, even if it’s an accident.”
After art school, Alexandre worked at a few animation studios before realising that to truly work with his aesthetic and “tell strange and surrealist stories”, he should work on his own. In doing so, the animator has picked up an array of fans, both a keen YouTube crowd and the backing of Adult Swim. The first was Home-makeover, a film developed after Vince McKelvie, the curator and web developer for Adult Swim etcetera, sent the animator a Facebook message asking to work together. It was here that Alexandre met Thomas Cappeau, a music and sound designer who he has since worked with on a series of shorts, Jamir at Home which have had us hooked with their absurdity.
Jamir, Alexandre’s main character, is one that can only be described as pretty odd. He lives at home in a huge house, “which seems to be infinite and a labyrinth”. In his actions, Jamir doesn’t seem “very awake for his age due to his lack of exchanges with other human beings,” but over time he’s adapted to his surreal environment and the supernatural beings who come to visit him, such as a dog who sheds its hair before running away into a parallel universe. “I still can’t reveal why he seems to live alone, to not be able to leave the house, and also why he always meets these strange or supernatural beings,” Jamir tells us. But, when it comes to Alexandre’s warped 90s cartoon and computer game aesthetic universe, we’re quite happy being naively kept in the dark.
Since introducing Jamir to audiences as part of Adult Swim’s Off Air series initially and now growing into a regular series, audiences have grown to love this character, even proposing theories about Jamir too. To learn and fall in love with Jamir’s absurdity as much we have, and for all your surrealist animation needs, you can head to Jamir’s very own Instagram account.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.