“My practice focuses on the otherworldly," says Glasgow-based animator Maurice Andresen. The creation of ethereal environments and mystical characters is Maurice’s speciality as he merges hyper-real renders of urban landscapes with surreal, alien-like characters to create a sense of displacement amongst what we think we know.
The animator’s latest project, Object Agency, sees performance, workshop and animation come together to explore the topic of animism. Speaking to It’s Nice That, Maurice explains the notion of animism as “the attribution of a spirit or soul within inanimate objects," particularly in the age of Anthropocene; our current geological age where human activity dominates our environment and climate.
In the animation, Maurice removes human agents and replaces them with animated spirits who roam Glasgow’s non-places. The magical and metallic characters (who wouldn’t be out of place in a Studio Ghibli film), eerily move through the city’s underpasses and alleyways to the cryptic sounds of chimes and a grinding bass.
“Animism is a common concept found in ancient and current polytheistic religions,” says Maurice. Its believers hold the views that “every tree and rock houses numerous spirits and gods within them”. With this in mind, Object Agency aims to reintroduce an appreciation for Animism and inanimate objects by evoking “a sense of humility to everything around us”. He animates objects to “raise their status” from something that is often unacknowledged, to an independent subject full of life.
“The idea originates from the vast amount of disused and neglected spaces found around the city of Glasgow," says Maurice. “People move through the city on a daily basis without appreciating the beauty of decayed bricks and other urban debris that seemingly has no purpose.” By giving these objects life through 3D animation, Maurice “bridges our reality with the spirit world”, adding fantastically quirky elements to the hyper-real urban landscape of the film.
The first stage of Object Agency involves a workshop and performance at New Glasgow Society. Maurice invited participants to bring urban debris such as rocks and found plastic objects to the gallery, these objects were then “cleansed in smoke and assembled into spirit icons” to sculpturally represent the spirits that live within the inactive objects. To further enhance the Animist’s point of view, Maurice dressed as one of the spirits from his animation during the workshop. Additionally, he set part of the film under a large motorway bridge “in an area that was once meant to be regenerated into a beautiful second city centre, but was sadly forgotten about.”
Ultimately, Maurice wants to transform the way people see their daily commute: “I want people to see the potential of spaces as something magical," he says. “There is scope to envision whole, celestial worlds on top of our reality.”
Moving on with the project in the future, Maurice is currently applying for funding to build a larger 3D environment of Object Agency for a video game simulation. In the game, players will be able to move around and explore objects, expanding the project from the limitations of animation software such as cinema 4d and Unity to physical engagement with “corporeal and spiritual realities.”