Goodbye Sorrow was created using hundreds of tiny ink drawings and watercolor paintings, individually scanned into a computer and animated using Flash. The soundtrack is a cover of the Europop song "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65. Together the images and sound represent everyday existence, one single drawing and off-key note at a time.
Sponsored by the Visual and Critical Studies program at the School of Visual Arts:
Interview with Katie Armstrong
t21: Favorite hour of the day?
KA: Early in the morning, that golden half-hour between when I first wake up and when I have to get out of bed. I like that period of time when I'm still cozy and dreamy, when the day feels like it's wide open and full of potential. (After this phase, I proceed to get really grouchy when I realize I can't just lounge around and daydream all day!)
t21: First website you check?
KA: Always my email first, followed by an embarrassingly long amount of time spent pouring over my Google Reader. I have a bit of a blog addiction.
t21: Personal motto?
KA: It's hard being a person.
t21: What makes you want to pursue filmmaking?
KA: I don't know if I would consider myself a filmmaker, per se. I animate for several reasons, though. The first would be that, in terms of the history of art, animation is still relatively young (compared to something like painting, for instance), and therefore has so much potential. With the Internet making it increasingly easier to release video work into the world, and at such high definition, I can't help but want to be a part of this strange, new, growing community. At the same time, I want to remind this digital land that there are human beings behind every strand of code, and that's where my handmade, nostalgic aesthetic comes from. The second reason is that I am actually trained as a dancer and come from a family of musicians. I have always been interested in sound and its relationship to the visual world, so making animations allows me to explore my love for drawing and movement with my love for making music and noise.
t21: What’s it like to be a student in New York?
KA: It's as overwhelming and wonderful as one might imagine! I can go sit in the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art whenever I want, for Pete's sake. What could be better?
t21: Favorite city or landmark?
KA: I know I should stay true to my city and say New York, but the real answer is that I haven't traveled enough yet to be able to pick out a favorite! I'll get back to you in a few years.
t21: Favorite public figure?
KA: I am increasingly appalled, intrigued, and confused by Lady GaGa at the moment. What in the world is she up to?
t21: The biggest global problem today?
KA: Oh dear, how does one even begin to answer to this question? I think maybe the root lies somewhere in the fact that we make decisions before understanding the entirety of a situation. We do not know ourselves and therefore have a hard time thinking for ourselves. This gets us into trouble time and time again.
t21: Last meal you made?
KA: Does a gigantic bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup and sprinkles count as a meal? To be honest, my cupboards are very sad and my hands don't know what to do with measuring cups. I'm not very inspiring in the kitchen.
t21: Coffee, tea or water?
KA: Chocolate milk!
t21: Boat, plane or train?
KA: Train, hands down.
t21: Latest obsession?
KA: I've been reading an awful lot of Richard Brautigan lately. He really knew what is inside of us, I think.
t21: Source of inspiration?
KA: I recently listened to a lecture by artist, Paul Chan (http://www.nationalphilistine.com/). He talked for a while about how, when he sees really good art, he immediately starts to feel anxious, like he's wasting time by not being in the studio working. That's how it is for me too, whether it be a song, a piece of art, a person's face, touching animal fur, tasting particularly wonderful chocolate...there are all kinds of experiences that inspire me. Inspiration is like this internal itch, it is immediate and almost painful!
t21: A topic you aspire to create a film about?
KA: Hmm, this is a tricky one to answer. For me, the process of making a piece doesn't start by picking a topic. That may sound strange, but I think the way it works is that I get this small, quiet notion about something in the world, and begin drawing or playing with whatever medium is at hand until the topic kind of finds me. Right now, I'm taken with the idea of reworking well-known pop songs from my childhood and pairing them with a visual interpretation, as I did with the song "Blue" by Eiffel 65 for Goodbye Sorrow. I think I will continue playing with this idea for a little while.
t21: Whom would you love to work with?
KA: This summer I'm going to have the opportunity to intern/work with Amy Wilson (http://www.amy-wilson.com/), a dear friend and ridiculously talented artist. I think Amy and I see the world through a similar lens, and I know I have so much to learn from her.
t21: What motivated you to make Goodbye Sorrow ?
KA: A cocktail of things: sadness, hope, worry, joy, longing, disappointment, nostalgia, the ruthlessness of time and how it pushes us into the present ceaselessly...
t21: Biggest obstacle in making it?
KA: Animating just takes a lot of time, and while you're in the midst of it, it feels like life sort of gets in the way. The biggest obstacle was having to shower, eat, go to work, and continue functioning in the world!
t21: Favorite/most unexpected response to Goodbye Sorrow ?
KA: I was worried that I was making something extremely sad while I was working on the piece, but I think it does more than just drag it's feet around in a puddle. Most people see and hear something hopeful when they watch Goodbye Sorrow, and that is reassuring. The video was in an exhibition at The School of Visual Arts, and while the show was up, I would hear people around school humming the tune. That was really special.
t21: Ten-year goal?
KA: Ten years? Let's see, I'll be 31, fluent in German, with many cats and a home built into the side of a mountain.
t21: What’s next?
KA: I'm planning on going to Germany in the fall! From there, who knows. I'm just going to keep making.
t21: Your question for t21?
KA: Do you need an intern? :]
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