Magic Minds and Magic Hands: A Hand Drawn Music Video From Kijek and Adamski
Many might remember that momentously electrifying night when the first music video aired on MTV; a beginning of an era that would pave the way to success for many bands and musicians such as Pat Benatar, REO Speedwagon as well as The Who. It was a minute after midnight on August 1, 1981 when Trevor Horn of the British New Wave band, The Buggles, appeared on screen sporting a shiny silver jacket and bulky sunglasses to match as he robotically sang into the microphone the first lines of their debut single “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Music videos were scarce and hard to come by for the present reality show mogul, but instantaneously became a phenomenon; a portent that brought life to the music and transported the viewer into the minds of artists and producers.
Since then production of music videos has changed, and with it, the people who make them. In fact, presently, it has become feasible for anyone to play the role of director with the invention of camera phones, YouTube, and Ipads. But though the technological advancements are vast, and at the fingertips of the populace, there are still those who believe in the artistry of making music videos and exhibiting the unparalleled creative understanding of fusing the old techniques with the new that only a limited few possess. Katarzyna Kijek and Przemyslaw Adamski, a Polish directing duo, fall into that category with their elaborate projects that stem from handmade productions using everyday objects like a mile long spool of yarn blended with the latest technology of cutting and pasting.
In a recent attempt to surpass viewers’ imaginations, the humorous and robust Polish team assembled a copious amount of colorful markers and paper, and created a hand drawn music video for Irish band We Cut Corners with water displacement effects and lip syncs, all handmade painstakingly frame by frame.
Shedding light on the production of their newest music video “Pirate’s Life,” Kijek and Adamski reveal to GALO in an exclusive interview their conceptual methods, the reverse side of the video, their feelings on working together, and how they have yet to make their “opus magnum.”
GALO: We Cut Corners found you on the Internet and approached you about making a music video for their song “Pirate’s Life.” What inspired them to reach out to you and what was your initial reaction to this request?
Katarzyna Kijek and Przemyslaw Adamski: It’s hard to tell what impulse brought them to us. All we know is that their foresight in this matter was rather uncommon. We found it very convenient to develop this time consuming idea while having [a] half-a-year deadline. So there [wasn’t] a lot of hesitation, [even more so] that the song is strikingly simple and that was another advantage because it inspired us to keep our work simple too.
GALO: The entire music video was hand drawn, made only with paper and markers. How did this concept come about?
K/A: As we mentioned [before], “Pirate’s Life” is so perfectly restrained that we wanted to come up with something equally simple. And there is nothing more genuine than handmade drawing. No huge sets, no expensive production processes, [and] no contrived treatments. Just simple measures and endless possibilities coming with them.
GALO: Was a lot of the brainstorming done with the band or did they give you complete creative leniency in the creative process?
K/A: We exchanged our ideas of what the piece is about, but all in all, we had full freedom of creation.
GALO: How many markers did you use in the process of making the video? And how many sheets of paper were used?
K/A: We [weren’t] actually paying attention to the exact number of used markers, but we were asked this question before, so we have them already counted, and the answer is 91. Paper sheets had to be numbered so we knew this score even [before] we started the whole project. [The score stands at] 1,850.
GALO: The music video uses water displacement effects. How did you manage to make this effect work so fluently with only sketches as your context?
K/A: Before we started the actual piece, we [conducted] at the swimming pool several tests with [a] 600 fps camcorder in a waterproof case, which gave us a basic idea of fluidity, motion, and possible refractions. Later, we prepared in Cinema 4D, a 3D model of the tide which was used as a sketch reference for the final output.The actual drawings were mostly improvised, but while working on them we had serious research behind us, so it was rather easy. Plus we rotoscoped large parts of the faces in order to preserve lip syncs.
GALO: How long did the entire project take to make?
K/A: About two months. We were doing one more project at the same time, so it’s hard to be exact.
GALO: What was the response to the finished product by the band? Did they feel it corresponded well to the text and meaning of the song?
K/A: Yes. There was nothing but affirmation.
GALO: Are there any plans of further collaboration with We Cut Corners in the foreseeable future? If not, would you like there to be?
K/A: There are no such plans, but we definitely don’t exclude them.
GALO: This isn’t the first music video you’ve made. You’ve made one with one kilometer of yarn and with flashlights where you created an entire city. Can you shed some light on some of your past projects – perhaps the creative process?
K/A: For us it’s all about the experiment. We focus on searching for unorthodox ways to develop simple ideas. It always starts with checking what given technology has to offer, besides the most obvious.There isn’t much to elaborate about each project, because usually basic explanation seems to be enough for the reception of the work. Grand Central is indeed made entirely with one thousand meters of yarn which was just outspreaded and illuminated in the way that allowed it to be suggestive enough to give an illusion of a night drive.
Everytime is a “shredding machine music video,” which basically explains most of the concept of this video. All the footage was printed, shredded, and reproduced in a way that paper shreds form a sort of image interference. [Our] music video for Brodka is for a change more conceptual, [it is a] site specific project but we still kept it simple. It is based of customized costumes made entirely out of remains of a huge, lately liquidated marketplace, which plays major part in the song.
All our other works are made with [a] similar approach. You can find more about them on our blog – www.kijekadamski.blogspot.com.
GALO: Is there a concept you haven’t tried yet but definitely would like to with a future project?
K/A: There are lots of such ideas. Many of them are really time consuming ones, so it’s not easy to find the right opportunity to realize them. The more that we truly appreciate the comfort of going wrong with some concepts, we start all over again. Paradoxally it’s the best way to come up with new ideas. That’s exactly the process we traced while working with Grand Central video.
GALO: Recently you announced on your blog that new versions of “Pirate’s Life” would be available soon. What differences can we expect in these new releases and are you working on anything else presently?
K/A: We announced one new version, but it was made more for it’s own sake. So called “reverse side version” is a short insight into the lining of the previously released work. These are the same drawings but reproduced from the other side where random marker ink soaking can be seen. We made this video shorter from the original because we were using different markers and not all of them were blackening the paper equally, and it could have been simply boring to watch it all. It can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/31952734
GALO: You’ve collaborated with musicians Tomasz Stanko and Oi Va Voi, among others. Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with that you haven’t had the chance to do so yet?
K/A: There are so many great musicians all around the world that it’s simply impossible to mention all those who we would love to work with.
GALO: Of all the projects you’ve made thus far, which concept was your favorite?
K/A: We are actually not big fans of rankings and records of any kind. It’s mostly a domain of sport and we try to have as little to do with sport as possible. We are glad we made most of our works for this reason or other. There is no opus magnum among them yet though.
GALO: The both of you met in high school and have been working together since. Do you ever think about bringing in others to your team?
K/A: We have inclination to [become involved] in time-consuming projects, so working together helps in obvious ways. We are indecently self-sufficient.
GALO: Tell us a little about yourselves.
K/A: It’s actually the hardest question among those you asked as, beacuse we couldn’t decide how little we should actually say and we stayed undecided.
GALO: Describe what you do in three words.
K/A: Don’t describe, do.
GALO: Where does your inspiration usually derive from?
K/A: All sorts of places actually. Sometimes it’s the way things interact with each other and sometimes it’s all about the perception of the most ordinary occurrences.
GALO: Many artists feel that technological advancements are taking away from the creative dimensions and limiting artists. What is your outlook on this?
K/A: Technology only helps. We just try to limit the time we spend in front of our computers. Also tactile projects are more fun to do – at least as long as you are able to wash your hands immediately after finishing.
GALO: Besides music videos, you also make shorts, and have even been awarded for your short “Noise.” Are there any plans on making a full-length film? Or do you prefer making shorts and music videos?
K/A: Considering the fact that the older we become, the faster subjectively the time flies, it’s highly likely that our next works will be increasingly shorter. At some point we are planning to establish cooperation with Italian nuclear physics in order to create [a] minus-length film.
GALO: What do you hope the future will bring for you?
K/A: In the worst case – more hope.