Alpha-Ville 2012: Obscura Premiere

Dan Ojari's latest protagonist is a living camera with a fading memory and death angst

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Dan Ojari is a London-based animator and director, and a graduate of the Royal College of Art. He uses predominantly stop-motion animation and his films have been screened at the BFI London Film Festival, Sundance and Tate Britain. His tense, claustrophobic short, 'Obscura', is showing at this year’s Alpha-Ville Festival, which takes place October 6 in London, with assorted screenings at Hackney Picturehouse and a parallel Alpha-Ville live event at the Hackney Empire.

Obscura is about the loss of memory and the idea of fading away. I see the character as someone who is towards the end of his existence, and is searching for the last few possessions that retain memories

Dazed Digital: Talk us through the making of Obscura.
Dan Ojari:
Obscura was the first short film I made and it was really where I discovered my passion for animation. It took a couple of months to write and make the models and three weeks to animate, which for animation is pretty quick. In a way it was an experiment to see whether I could make a film just with one character and one set.

DD: The character's body is comprised of various tools - a camera bellows, pliers. Does he represent how you feel about your role in the animation process, that you're very much a tool in that process?
Dan Ojari: A camera is a tool of recording and I felt it was interesting to use the symbolism of a camera for a head to suggest the link between the making of photographs and the making of memories. Obscura is about the loss of memory and the idea of fading away. I see the character as someone who is towards the end of his existence, and is searching for the last few possessions that retain memories. I thought there was something poetic about the fading of memories and also how over time the same happens to photographs, tapes and really any form of recording.

DD: Your films feature quite solitary lead characters; the passage of time appears to be a unifying theme. To what extent does your experience of the painstaking and monotonous nature of animation inform your work?
Dan Ojari: That’s an interesting question. As an animator I think it’s impossible not to see time in a different light. You can spend a whole day or sometimes an entire week and only produce a few seconds of footage - it makes you really ponder what time is. Animating is essentially quite a solitary process, however I haven’t consciously chosen lead characters that reflect this.

DD: The concept of 'the void' is prominent in your work, whether it be a desire to escape into it, or a feeling of having it encroach on you. What does 'the void' represent to you personally?

Dan Ojari: Obscura is in many ways about the idea of dying - I don’t really believe in an after life. That is a strange and scary thing to contemplate, to think about what happens in those last few moments before you fade into the void. But to me the loss of a memory, whether it be in someone’s mind or a faded photograph, is a type of death and I wanted to explore this.

DD: Explain the meaning of the ticking, handless clock. It seems to almost anchor the scene.
Dan Ojari: I liked the idea of time ticking away, but it’s not something you can see. The character doesn’t know how long he has left.

Alpha-Ville 2012 is at the Hackney Picturehouse and Hackney Empire October 6, 2012- more info HERE

Text by Tom Jenkins

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