Interstellar bursts and the non-spectacular things

an essay by Karolina Glusiec

Mostly Moving
Sep 20 · 11 min read

from Mostly Moving issue 2, released April 2019
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Interstellar bursts and the non-spectacular things / The in-between and the accidental The important accidental or the non-spectacular things. Or on the unimportant spectacular things. An the everyday. Or the Every Day.

It’s 23 rd March 2019, Saturday. While I’m finishing writing what you’re reading right now, I’m still thinking about Barbara Hammer, who passed away a week ago, on 16th March 2019. She was 79 years old. I was not familiar with her work until I saw “Our trip” when I visited CalArts in October last year. Mark Toscano showed it to the students, was it on 16mm? Wait.

Let me check Instagram.

Ah, no, this is not what I wanted to start from. Actually, yes. I wanted to start from writing about “Our Trip” which was the first film by Barbara that I saw. I wasn’t familiar with any of her works. Yes, wrote that already. Ok. So last Saturday, on the 16th March I’m driving to Banff with my family.

Ok, I know what I was meant to start with. Once again.

On 16th March, which was last Saturday, I’m driving to Banff with my family.

It’s beautiful and sunny here. Here in Canada. I’m newly arrived in Canada. We’re driving from Calgary to Banff. We’re going to briefly visit Canmore. Canmore is on the way to Banff. I didn’t know.

Last week I did an animation in the car while we drove to London, Ontario. I did not intend really, shot it with my phone. The roads and the light, the colors of buildings here in Canada are spectacular to me — like in the movies, never seen anything like them, I’m amazed with the vastness of space. Endless horizons and amazing cloud formations. Every day. And we’re driving. Everyone I’m visiting ends up driving me to places. I’m not used to that. And I’m making these drawings as reminders to myself, how I used to feel when I saw what I saw, on that particular day and to show it to my friends when I tell them about places I saw and people I visited. Mainly because I’m a terrible photographer. I can never manage to photograph things that I see the way I see them. My current phone camera takes these spectacular pictures with depth of field and all that jazz now — I don’t mind. I quite like them. But the camera takes the picture but the perspective and the perception of the landscape is incredible. I’m not used to it. I don’t have a car. I’m not used to be viewing things this way. So beautiful. So spectacular. Every day.

This is going to be my Every day.

I’m thinking I need to be writing. I want to be writing. I’m having a beautiful time with my family. My granddad’s family. My granddad distant relatives. I’m newly arrived in Canada. I came here on the 5th of March. First couple of days I spent in Toronto, then went to Brantford, Ontario for a couple of days and then to Edmonton, Alberta — in these two places I met my family, my granddad distant relatives, my newly discovered family. We have never seen each other before. We’re driving to Banff on a Saturday, sunny day. I know I need to be writing. I want to be writing. Ok, let me put the youtube on, I’d like to play you. This song by Vinnie Riley, who is the Durutti Column, it’s called “Sketch for Summer”.

On 23rd February I was showing my work at my friend’s gallery, on his backyard in Swidnik. The gallery is actually a shed which Pawel and his mom and dad still use to store things. Various sorts of things. Things that they don’t use at the moment or things they find around and keep with the intention of using later. Sometime later.

Now is now, then is then and when then was now, we were using the shed in a particular time. I was showing my work there. Along with three other artists. The exhibition was called “Every Day” (Co dzien * Polish)

I was then just after coming back from the United States. I lived there for 6 months. I was visiting there for 6 months. On my last week of living there, I watched “Permanent Vacation” with a friend of mine whom I met while staying in Brooklyn. I haven’t remembered when was the last time I watched a film or read a book. It seemed to me as if there’s been a good couple of years that happened. Oh no, sorry, I watched “Patterson” in January 2017, that was before my grandmother died and yeah, I watched “The Cold War” with my friend from work. That was before I left for the U.S. that was before I left Lublin, where I last lived in Poland.

I was meant to write about what I showed at the exhibition, but I am now writing about what I was going to make for the exhibition. I arrived in Swidnik, in my friend’s family house in the woods. In early February this year. Not straight from the U.S — I was visiting my friend in Belgium before. We’ve known each other for more than 10 years now. We met in Falmouth, Cornwall, United Kingdom, where we both studied, we did this student’s exchange called “Erasmus”. It’s when you go to another country in Europe for a couple of months. I did my first “serious” animated film there, it was my BA final project. That was over 10 years ago. Now England isn’t in the European Union anymore. Is it? My friend I visited in Belgium, Lore just had a baby. A girl called Pippa. Born on 2nd January 2019. When I visited she turned one month old.

When I arrived in Swidnik and when we started preparing the exhibition I was meant to show the works from the US and some animation that I started working on while I was there. I had a plan to work on it. Every day. Before the exhibition. While I was visiting my friend in Swidnik and living in the house in the woods with him and his mom.

Every day. I was drawing. Nearly every day I was drawing everything but not what I initially meant. I would wake up and then go to the kitchen, make myself a coffee, draw everything else but not the initially planned stuff — no. Every day I was drawing what’s in the kitchen, portraits of my friend, Pawel, views from the kitchen window, views from outside of the house.

Only on the first night after I arrived I drew a sequence of the sunrise, I wanted to tell my friend Pawel about how it was when I went to Coney Island on Christmas Day last year. I started drawing the sequence on these little index cards that usually you can get at the dollar store.

My friend Pawel found a bunch of them near the public library in Lublin, on Lwowska Street. They all had writings on them. They used to be a part of the library catalogue — each one contained the information on the particular book: The author, title, signature, pages count — everything you usually find in the library record.

My friend Pawel found these near the library, actually by the skip — they were all thrown away because all the library catalogues became digitized now. He brought home two shopping bags full of these. With the intention to use them later. That must have been a couple of weeks before I came to visit him. Or a couple of months. Each and single one of them is a record of a significant piece of literature. Big names, big titles. Philosophers, thinkers, creators. All these monumental writings. I haven’t read much, to be honest. One of my housemates here, in Vancouver, while I’m editing this text just txted me about some works of Heidegger I should be familiar with — I’m not but I know what he’s talking about. Almost every other friend of mine read him. I haven’t yet.

On 23rd of February is the second day of the exhibition we’re making. First day was opening. The second is closing. I’ve invited my mom and her boyfriend to come over. I also invited my brother and his wife to come over. They know I will be gone very soon.

The spectacular things. Let’s talk about the spectacular things.

It looks or it seems or it is ok let me play this spectacular song now. Yeah, it’s great timing. I had this time when I still lived in London when I dreamed about having this song by Colin Newman in the end credits. To some of the spectacular feature films that I would make. No, not an animated one, a real-deal film on film, yeah? With HUMAN-ACTORS-PEOPLE in it. I used to be asked, by my family and friends, if I’d ever want to make a serious film. So that probably what they’d consider a serious film. A film. Film-Film. So yeah, I will and I will have Colin Newman’s song in the end credits, I’m telling you:

I had this conversation with my friend Pawel. On that thing that almost everybody has or probably everybody has sometimes stumbled upon within themselves while working on any visual kind of artwork I imagine — the need for making spectacular things.

Spectacular.

Even though we just want to make something simple. Just like that. Just simple. Just a pretty simple thing. Just a ha ha. Ha ha ha ha.

“Oh man what will my family say when they come to my grad show and see these {{pencil strokes}}, they would be like: are you joking, is that it? Is that what you’ve been doing in this big school for last two years? You gotta be joking me.”

Spectacular things. The visionary and the universal. The everlasting. The monumental.

Pawel Marcinek at BWA Drewniana, Swidnik, gallery, February 2019

Two days before the exhibition I woke up like I do every day, went outside of the house with the bunch of record cards that I created the animated sequence on. The sun started to rise. I started photographing the drawings, one by one, placing them upon a piece of wood I found lying next to the shed in the backyard that I put into the ground. The pole had a nail in it, an old rusty nail. Seemed a perfect solution for placing each record card in place, one by one. Each one had a hole punched in it.

The incredible. The showstoppers. The real stuff.

I photographed the whole sequence without any particular order. It did not matter. The drawings were upside down anyway. The animated sunrise became animated sunset. It did not matter. I managed to capture the sun that was rising that day. It was spectacular. The real sunrise.

A couple of hours later I’m putting the punched cards upon the branches of the trees. The plum and apple trees that I see now, on a really sunny winter day that feels almost like spring. I’m turning my phone camera on and leaving it like that. I’m sticking the branches of the trees into the holes punched into the record cards. The cards used to be library records, they used to be a part of the library catalogue. I look at them and they are big pieces, big authors. Now each of them has a drawing of the sunrise on them, hanging upside down, the sunrise looks like the sunset now. Or like apples or plums on the trees. In winter. I’m just putting them upon the trees until I have no more. It’s a bit windy. So they’re blown away by the wind, some of them.

There are a couple of beehives next to the trees. You can see in this picture.

The white record cards are all around. I should start picking them up from the ground. Made so much mess, don’t want to upset the bees.

While I’m picking them up, the beekeeper arrives. I did not expect him to be here. He didn’t expect me either. He doesn’t know me. He says hello and I say hello too. We start talking about what the bees are after right now. He’s sweeping the dead bees from the beehives, these are the ones that didn’t survive the winter. The other bees lift them and carry outside of the hives and leave them on the ground. Every single one is doing something and they know exactly what they’re doing.

We carry on talking. The beekeeper is telling me about the antibiotic he needs to place in each of the beehives to prevent them from getting infected from the disease. The phone camera is still on. He places a medication tablet on the beer cap attached to a long piece of metal that he heats up from the underneath with a lighter and then slips inside each beehive. It’s an antibiotic. He slips the metal piece in then covers the beehive outlet for a couple of minutes so all the smoke remains inside.

The phone camera is still recording.

And my whimsical animation sequence seems to be an excuse to stop by and watch the beehive. Or the sunrise. The real one.

So, yeah, we were talking, me and Pawel, my friend from Swidnik. We had this conversation on how we’re all seemed to be caught up in this, the need of making spectacular things, creating spectacular artworks even though we’re really after making things as simple as they are. Just as they are. It’s ok. We’re all doing ok. Even though we may think we make or we don’t make the spectacular things. The blue sky is still blue. The sun is still bright. Sometimes more sometimes less on a cloudy day. It’s ok.

Everything became clear and the sky remained cloudless. A documentation on work in process on “The Spectacular things” film, 3 min, Color, 2019

I remembered showing “Velocity” to my granddad, just after graduating in 2012. My granddad is a person that surely inspired me a lot. A person I spent lots of significant time with. A person that I learned a lot from, I person that I take after. Many things. Some of them I don’t like at all but maybe that’s like that at the moment. I was brought up by him and my grandma.

After seeing the film my grandad told me: “Looks like you didn’t work much on this, did you?”

At that time hearing what he was saying I thought just what you’re thinking right now reading it, but now I think that this has been the greatest compliment someone ever told me. Really. Granddad — thank you so much. Dziekuje Ci dziadku.


FIND KAROLINA

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© Mostly Moving 2019

Mostly Moving

Interviews and essays by contemporary independent & experimental animators. Created by Jonah Primiano.

Mostly Moving

Written by

Mostly Moving

Interviews and essays by contemporary independent & experimental animators. Created by Jonah Primiano.

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