/video/stills/thumbs/thumb_1206_seem_1.jpg

Coalfather Industries - Seem

2:30, 2014, Video Art
The human and mechanical characters in Seem propel the viewer into the “Uncanny Valley” where the line between real and phantasm is obscured.

Robotic puppets perform repetitive movements in holiday displays, museum exhibitions and even in the midst of the bland shopping experiences at big box stores. Human adults dress in costumes resembling characters from children’s television shows, and in protective suits performing useless and idiotic movements.

The word “ Robot” derives from the Czech word robota meaning “forced labor” reflecting a desire to seek a replacement for the repetitive human drudgery of factory work. In Seem the labor itself produces nothing more than a mirror of the repetition we as humans continue to endure as we live out our lives in a pointless circle, shopping, driving and staring at screens.

We disguise ourselves yet marvel at the self we recognize in machines. We fear others disguised as others. Often, these things are like corpses to us. Yet animatrons are made and costumes are worn to entice us, to convince us. We heed the suggestions of the unreal in a fog of repulsion and obligation.

DirectorCoalfather Industries

CountryUSAEdition2014 GreenScreenings2014 - 6th Screengrab International Media Arts Award, jointly presented by James Cook University’s School of Creative Arts, and Pinnacles Gallery, in Townsville, Queensland, Australia

< overview

Interview

Your film is about?
The human and mechanical characters in Seem propel the viewer into the “Uncanny Valley” where the line between real and phantasm is obscured.

Robotic puppets perform repetitive movements in holiday displays, museum exhibitions and even in the midst of the bland shopping experiences at big box stores. Human adults dress in costumes resembling characters from children’s television shows, and in protective suits performing useless and idiotic movements.

The word “ Robot” derives from the Czech word robota meaning “forced labor” reflecting a desire to seek a replacement for the repetitive human drudgery of factory work. In Seem the labor itself produces nothing more than a mirror of the repetition we as humans continue to endure as we live out our lives in a pointless circle, shopping, driving and staring at screens.

We disguise ourselves yet marvel at the self we recognize in machines. We fear others disguised as others. Often, these things are like corpses to us. Yet animatrons are made and costumes are worn to entice us, to convince us. We heed the suggestions of the unreal in a fog of repulsion and obligation.


How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
Our combined educational background lies in literature, painting and sculpture. With our interest in both the verbal and the visual, video was an obvious step in our evolution.


Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
We generate a lot of work through stream of consciousness online chats. Often, we end up making lists of thoughts and ideas and then create dialogue from those lists. From the chats we move to connect visual with the verbal. This often involves culling video footage from an online storage system. We have a recurring set of themes and concepts we return to over and over, including: gluttony, patriotism, waste, fear, entertainment and anxiety.


How long do you usually work on one project?
That varies. Sometimes we produce something in less than a week. Other times it can take 2 or 3 months. Seem went through a number of edits - more so than most of our projects.


Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
We begin very intuitively, but once the production process is in full swing it becomes about careful planning.


How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
We try to pick very short titles, if not single word titles. We prefer to use words that have double meanings or could be applied to different ideas in the film. For example, "seem" refers to appearances. But "seam" can mean a place where two items are joined together and also a thing that exists hidden or in the ground. Then, of course, "seamy" means sordid and degenerate. So all those definitions and permutations of the word and words that sound like the word play into what the film is about.


Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
Malls, television, workplaces, subways, parking lots, Facebook, grocery stores, gas stations, hospital waiting rooms, cemeteries, toy stores, college campuses, gravel roads, fallow fields, ancient forests, zoos, bed and breakfasts, brick factories


How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
Sound is very important to us. We make our own music with real and synthesized instruments as well as implement field recordings from our phones.


How important is the reaction to your film by the audience?
We rarely see anyone’s reaction to what we do.


What is your next project about?
We are working on a set of new films that analyze the works of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne in addition to working on some new performance and installation ideas.

< overview
< Artists interviews