"Video art is like pornography. In pornography anything goes as long as there's sex, just as anything filmed can be video art," said Niles Atallah, one of the three creators of Lucía, Luis y el lobo ("Lucía, Luis and the wolf").
Photo courtesy Niles Atallah, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León
With the awareness that not all video art is good, the three artists of this stop motion film, Niles Atallah, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León, went to work. Stop motion animation, a frame-by-frame video created with individual, distinct photos, is produced in a similar fashion to pornography, Attallah and Cociña said in an interview, and this realization helped them make Lucía, Luis y el lobo what it is.
Like pornography, Atallah said, video art is too general. Anything can be considered video art so long as it is filmed. A person could film a girl walking for three seconds, loop it for nine hours and project that on a gallery wall. For this reason he wanted the project to be "something that begins and ends" rather than something that carries on forever with no change or apparent meaning.
Hence, Lucía, Luis y el lobo is a series of two short videos, each three to four minutes in length, accompanied by some shorter animations. They each have a beginning and an end, forming a story of sorts that can still be viewed and appreciated for each individual moment.
In the first segment, named "Lucía," a young girl recounts her past experiences with Luis in a monologue. Luis had loved her at one point and yet she feared him because she believed he was a werewolf. The second video in the series, "Luis," is Luis´side of the story, where he speaks of his time in the woods and his relationship with Lucía. What happened between them is not entirely clear, though, since his words are expressed like passing, inconclusive thoughts.
As these two videos are projected onto the gallery wall, several shorter films are shown on screens embedded into a pile of dirt and furniture in the middle of the gallery floor. Visually, the films resonate a dark tone as charcoal images of Lucía, Luis, the wolf and a nighttime forest appear on the walls of the rooms on screen. Meanwhile furniture moves throughout the scene and breaks, as if being smashed by invisible hands like a metaphor of the story being told. A particularly stunning effect is shown in "Luis" when as his charcoal face exhales, the furniture in the film trembles as if blown by his very breath.
While the entire work is visually poetic, the images' true merit is its restrained approach that doesn't put aesthetic style up on a pedestal. As Cociña explained, many people using stop motion animation tend to make it too much of a spectacle, simply because it is possible. With stop motion animation, any object can move and, as he described, sometimes this excessive freedom in turn can cause that spectacle. Limitations were put in place to help prevent Lucia, Luis y el lobo from evolving into something merely aesthetic: the artists decided to keep it black and white, with only one character and one room in each video, and to use only natural lighting, charcoal, dirt and furniture. The simplicity of these limitations granted them the freedom to create without overdeveloping the effects.
Although at the moment it is possible to view the "Lucía" part online, the experience of going to the gallery is something altogether different. Walking into the gallery is like entering an old fairytale (which partially inspired the style of the videos) or witnessing a dream transitioning into a nightmare while sleepwalking in a forest on a cool night.
"Lucía, Luis y el lobo"
March 10 to April 9, 2009
Av. Alonso de Córdova 3105 (at Aurelio González)
Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 8 pm
Saturday, 10:30 am to 2 pm
Metro: Escuela Militar