“One of the major reasons I feel so heavily drawn to the medium of frame-by-frame animation is the possibilities by which I can formulate a visual language equivalent to the way I think and perceive the world,” begins animator and illustrator Raman Djafari. We originally fell in love with Raman’s work for its complex transitions, vivid colours and emotive messages and, as it transpires, these qualities go far beyond aesthetics, allowing Raman to “give shape to my fragmented thoughts and associations”.
Raman sees his use of transitions, particularly, as a visual representation of how humans perceive the world. “As we never have complete information but rather piece together our concept of reality from individual fragments of perception,” he explains, “the transitions I often make use of in my work are a way for me to elaborate on that concept.”
True to this belief, Raman’s most recent animation is a music video for psychedelic pop band Vacationer’s track Magnetism. It expresses the real-life experience of falling in love through a somewhat surreal, sugar-coated version of reality. Through a collection of “short, visually intertwined narratives” which follow a range of characters, Raman illustrates how “love would transform the nature of those environments”. Plants sprout, oceans burst open and minerals melt as spaces are transformed by the emotions of each couple.
With no initial brief, Raman was given the “gift of creative freedom”. He began by riffing off the lyrics and sounds in a holistic manner, loosely exploring ideas and concepts. As he was visiting a friend in Amsterdam at the time, Raman took into account the architecture and general environment of the city. “While walking around the city I took a lot of mental notes, taking photos, writing down little ideas for scenes and doing sketches,” he tells us. This, combined with the “strong sense of intimacy and trust, the sweet sensation of falling in love and opening up to the beauty of the shared experience”, that the song promotes is what produced the tender and compelling animation.
In terms of aesthetics, Magnetism’s colour palette is uplifting and fresh, mirroring the experience of falling in love. Inspired by myriad references (the music video for I wanna be free by Gents, Alex Da Corte, Mika Rottenberg), once again, Raman drew on his own experiences: “Sci-Fi book illustrations from the 70s played a role just as the designs of board game boxes and toys I found on a flee market in Amsterdam,” he says. “I consciously aimed to balance out the surreal with the sweet, going for a playful atmosphere, creating a world in which anything can happen.”
For an animator who creates such surreal work, videos in which humans float and morph into objects with ease, the revelation that so much of his imagery is inspired by real life is fascinating. It adds a certain metaphorical depth to the candy-coloured video, an empathy which draws you in. “ In animation,” Raman concludes, “I can express my lived experience while also make sense of it through the medium itself. I tend to understand what I have felt and thought way more clearly once I have given form to it through a medium, may it be drawing, animation or words.”
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