Digital artist Maitry Rao uses shifting animation styles to reflect a stream of consciousness in her dreamlike, VR-inspired short film

The London-based artist offers a trip through her wondrous imagination in Anywhere But Here.

19 May 2022


During the various lockdowns, filmmaking became a form of “therapy” for digital artist Maitry Rao. “The only thing I had control over,” she explains, “was my escapist dreaming”. This avid writing, storyboarding and designing resulted in Maitry’s spectacular short film Anywhere But Here, a calming and meditative exploration of the potential of one’s imagination.

Prior to any of the visuals for the film being made, Maitry wrote a series of spoken word pieces that followed the theme of escape, and being set free. Overlaid over the top of the film, the written “outburst of emotions” acted as a guiding light for the visuals. Spoken in Maitry’s voice they have a soporific effect and pair brilliantly with Kaushik Venkat’s sparse, ambient sound design. Maitry’s written work is inspired by poets like Rupi Kaur and Megha Rao, who, she explains, structure their poems in a conversative and free flowing manner. “Learning from these masters, I have used infinity zoom as a visual narration tool to amplify my stream of consciousness voiceover,” Maitry expands.

As a means of complementing the stream of consciousness style of narration, Maitry animated the film “to look like one seamless scene travelling through different indoor and outdoor spaces”. The different styles and speeds applied throughout are intended to represent the “out of the ordinary” nature of the film. And what’s more, to represent Maitry’s being in complete control of the world she has created, she exposes the wireframe of 3D models and cursors on the screen: “It becomes a metacommentary format when I shed the layers and show the code of how I interacted with and within my world through hypermediation.” This level of autonomy and creative freedom is an important aspect for Maitry, and it’s why she loves VR so much. Always allowing for her to be “the first person point of view”, it helps Maitry to create work that she truly resonates with. “This kind of authority is overwhelming but I embrace it since it provokes me to emote by dancing within my whimsical world,” she adds.


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 2 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)

Coming from a fine art background, it was during her IGCSE’s that Maitry’s interest in digital art was piqued. It quickly moved toward CGI when she started watching breakdowns of Disney films after school. Taking 3D animation and games design at Middlesex University London, Maitry began to experiment with as many aspects as the course allowed for. Throwing herself into as many projects as possible, in 2019 Maitry showcased her VR experience Portrait and during her master’s in experimental animation at The Royal College of Art, Maitry began interweaving her writing with images, making an interactive walking simulator Laugh and Breathe in 2020. “It still fascinates me how my interest slowly drifted towards experimental CGI art practice, from the Disney-esque style that I was initially intrigued by,” Maitry says with a laugh.

Maitry currently works as an academic assistant for 3D animation and games at her undergraduate university, Middlesex. When she’s not working she likes to take on commission work. But, quite frankly, Maitry’s mind is always exploring: “I sketch, doodle and write even when on the tube commute, waiting for my next inspiration to strike”.


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 1 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 8 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 6 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 7 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 9 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 5 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 4 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 3 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)


Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here Shot 10 (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)

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Maitry Rao: Anywhere But Here (Copyright © Maitry Rao, 2021)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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