Marc Johansen’s distinctly characterful animations stand out for many reasons but particularly their use of original sound also composed by Marc himself. His latest film, Life More Abundant ’98 premiered this year at Scotland’s Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival and is the result of “a year thinking about how the residential environments I grew up in might still resonate with me” Marc tells It’s Nice That. With a nostalgic eye for animation, Marc uses retro video game imagery with 3D animation “as computer graphics were one of the most prominent visual languages I encountered at the time”.
Growing up in Perth, Scotland, Life More Abundant ’98 accurately recreates feelings of a suburban adolescence. Marc’s interests lay “in a kind of ‘atmosphere’ — a suspension of narrative in favour of a mood,” the animator explains. "‘Mood’ of a place almost automatically involves subjective feelings, therefore, it’s always going to be a comment on the back and forth between my experience and environment. It can’t help but be messily subjective which is often the kind of work I like.”
Inspired by artists that similarly communicate vivid atmospheres such as Mamma Andersson and Charles Burchfield, Marc’s work is a powerful embodiment of visual and audial stimulation. As well as releasing music under the artist name Sothko, Marc credits his working knowledge of sound and music to inform his animations. “I’ve been working with sound and music longer than I’ve been working visually and so I think they have definitely formed my way of working,” he explains. “It’s why I feel that I want my work to function on an intuitive, sensory level first. Also, music haunts memory — for good and bad — and memory is intrinsically connected to how we embody the environments we experience through our lives… Sound and music are often the starting point to an animation. Collecting field recordings, sampling from video games/films/tv or maybe hearing a song can be the impetus to an idea. I think because digital animation lacks the kind of texture of material mediums, sound and its textures become an integral part of the way an animation feels — sound is visceral in a way seeing isn’t”.
Marc’s animations are certainly transportive due to his perceptive understanding of sensory communication. The unlikely yet complimentary contrast between childlike, hand-rendered drawings and technically skilled 3D animation singles out Marc’s work as an exemplary talent. Currently, Marc is working on a new film about “the messy, sticky world of deep-sea organisms and the noisy end of the music spectrum,” he hints. The animator and musician’s interests are also expanding into the study of biological and ecological processes that will most-definitely contribute to Marc’s impressive creative output.
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