Miwa Matreyek creates performances where real shapes and virtual images trade places, amid layers of animation, video and live bodies. Her work exists in a juxtaposition of illusion and non-illusion. Her work touches the viewers minds and body creating a metaphysical and cinematic experience. Wow! Before we attend her upcoming show with Flying Lotus at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts this weekend, we caught up with Miwa and got some insight into her creative world. Words can’t really do Miwa Matreyek justice, but in the interview below she is bound to catch your attention.
On Friday, August 24th you have a show opening with Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus) called “The Mapping of Countries Yet to Come.” How did this collaboration come about? Can you explain what this collaboration entails? This collab is part of a granted project through the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock in Los Angeles. They put us together and gave us a portion of the grant toward creating something to be presented there – so it was basically their conceit.
“Mapping of Countries Yet to Come” (named by CFAER), for me, will be a “work-in-progress” presentation of a larger project I am fundraising for on my own and working on over the next year, that will eventually be my own solo piece, “This World Made It Self” – for which Steve and I plan to continue to work together.
How do you and Flying Lotus as creatives compliment each others ideas and talent? I think Steve is immensely talented – just the scope and range of his music is amazing. It seems like he is just able to jam out music. With me, there is a lot of feeling around and trying and failing until I start to shape together something that works and is interesting… the time scale of our processes is very different. But a lot of my inspiration comes from music, and he has a very strong language for music.
What about Flying Lotus’ music inspires you? When I started out I actually didn’t know a lot about his music – but by meeting with him and skipping through his vast collection of his music on his iTunes, I was really inspired by his very cinematic, symphonic and textural music. His music also can really cover a range – rich and warm, mysterious and vast, primal and violent… and set an emotional tone for the scenes I wanted to create.
Do you have any staple trademarks a viewer could find in all your work? Cities, nature, domestic spaces, body, hands, eyes, animals, plants … all jumbled up in a dreamlike way. See all of Miwa’s featured work and the trademarks here.
I came to animation from making collages (very inspired by Russian Constructivists and Surrealist collages) and I consider most of my animation work, and even performance to be forms of collage – layers of somewhat disparate elements coming together to create a whole – in the case of performance, the body (3-d space) is collaged with the projected image as well.
A lot of my inspiration comes from the gestural and the physical, and the connection of my body to an image, often in strange, dreamlike combinations… like hands that comprise a portal to space or giant eyes that make up a telescope. This is true of both my performance work with a live body, as well as most of my short films, where I rotoscope my body and composite it into an image. I feel like the the act of performance connects me to the surreal worlds that I create, making me ask questions like “what does it feel like to touch the surface of the moon” or “what does it feel like to be an island”? The performance gives me a physical and emotional connection to the animation – and I think also gives the viewed a point of connection, too.
Do you have a mentor? Who? Not really. I do have a few trusted friends I bounce my ideas with, get feedback that I mull over and think about, etc. Some of them are past teachers who are half-way between friends and mentors. I think there is something to learn (or at least be considered) in most feedback you get as long as it was said earnestly, whether you agree with it or not.
How/what technology or graphic programs during your conceptual processes do you rely on? Or do those tools come as an after thought? I use Photoshop and After Effects heavily to design and animate throughout the process. I tend not to start with a clear plan and let new ideas find a place in the project as they come… so I feel like I’m constantly at all stages of the process at once.I also tend to test out and experiment with ideas as I go, so I like to have a set up of projectors and screens in my living room to play with scale, textures, content, performance… a lot of it becomes about play and solving puzzles.
Who was your artistic influence growing up? Mentor in college? And now? As I mentioned, I’ve always loved the strong imagery of surrealist collages. I’ve always been emotionally drawn to the energy of films/videos with very integrated music and image – this can be music videos, to Disney’s Fantasia, to Brothers Quay animations. Films where you experience the visual and aural amplified together. I always feel like I strive to make something that feels like the image and music is combined in a dance.
I love Michel Gondry’s work – I love how he sets up a puzzle per music video (i.e. time in palindromes, motion control camera, projections, patterns in dance choreography) then explores all the ways to explore and push the puzzle beyond the obvious.
What video of yours is a personal favorite and you feel represents you as an individual best?
Myth and Infrastructure – of course, I should hope that as I complete my new piece, This World Made It Self, it would replace that spot, since every piece I make should be an evolution upon the previous work, right? In terms of complexity, content, artistic maturity … But I do still like Myth and Infrastructure, because there were a lot of discoveries in the process making it. And despite the fact that I’ve performed it all over the world, I still feel happy and relaxed when I am behind the screen performing it, like a personal ritual.
If you could design an installation in the home of any filmmaker (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you create? Hmm, I’m not sure about an installation, but I would love to just do some fun art making along with some of my favorite artists – for example I think it could be really fun/interesting to make collages along with Jan Svankmajer.
I also recently made a music video for a friend … inspired by my visit to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, this short film is a surreal interpretation of the Human desire – and the Earth’s desire – to connect with what is beyond our own world.
Below is a sample of previous work by Miwa Matreyek. Do you get what’s up with Miwa Matreyek ???