Animator Daniel Ma and some real life inspiration for Bridging the Past
For the most part, how we view ourselves and our place in the world is a product of the history we are told. The deluge of information in present day pushes us to be even more discerning about what we are told more than ever before; that is, if we are being diligent in our pursuit of truth. The way information is communicated is profound. While there are those who would have you beguiled by promises of personal gain, there is a much more benevolent application of the communication of information. The Getty Museum’s presentation of the work of Egyptian based artist Ganzeer is the epitome of this. Presented at the Getty Villa in collaboration with LOGAN, the award-winning NY and LA based creative studio & production company specializing in content creation, the exhibition mixes history, politics, and art in an informative sensory experience which is captivating and challenging to a global perspective. Animator Xiabo “Daniel” Ma of LOGAN was the designer/animator on this massively important and innovative presentation of old world artifacts meets ultra-modern visual language. Daniel’s work on this project offers a ground breaking sense of what the museum/art experience of the future might look like.
Getty is known for striking imagery and art. It’s likely that the reason they turned to Daniel Ma and LOGAN for this collaboration is LOGAN’s notoriety from working on such campaigns as Apple’s iPod Silhouettes, hit video games like Call of Duty, Borderlands, Resistance, and hit movies like Zombieland, The Avengers, Gymkana films (a viral sensation with more than 165 million views), and others. “Bridging the Past” certainly holds its own against any of these cinematic sensations. Ganzeer’s politically charged artwork and 3000-year-old stone reliefs from ancient Assyria was remixed by LOGAN into a full-frontal attack on the senses. Ganzeer states, “Artists have the power to shape and we shape that mythology and create new ideas about our shared identity.”
What the Getty so shrewdly recognized and accomplished with this video by LOGAN is that there is an excitement to the ancient that is not rooted in reverence but in relevance. Most importantly, the creative communication of this in a vernacular that resonates with a younger audience can tap into an excitement of this demographic as well as cultivate a fresh audience for the museum. Of course, this presentation hinges upon the animation that Daniel Ma created for the video. His job for the production was simple; design the most impactful, memorable shots that match the story and then use all of his skill to animate them. Utilizing 2D+3D motion graphics styles with very fast paced editing and snappy cutting while adding on elements that were bold, daring, and vacillating between the abstract literal; this film materialized into a very energetic and powerful piece. The collaboration of director and animator manifests a perspective that reveals Ganzeer’s vision and the thrilling aspects of the information. The layered and textured 3D approach used for the map of Ancient Assyria transforms it into a vibrant and living region for the purposes of this presentation. The textural use of color in another scene where artifacts seem to jump out of a dark background infuses these objects with an appropriate “animated” (no pun intended) energy and creates excitement for what might have been an otherwise sedentary and bland display of ancient objects. Cats were the greatest challenge of the production for the animator as Daniel imparts, “A shot with cats running around and the camera flying towards a big statue of a Egyptian cat is one of the most difficult shots in the whole production. It is such a dramatic movement for the camera and the speed of it is hard to control to fit the overall pace. It needed to be edited in the end but we are glad that it turned out to be awesome. The cat is totally remodelled and textured to be more attractive and intimidating.”
When asked if he shares Ganzeer’s ethos about artists, Daniel relates, “I quite agree with this statement that artists are the group of people who have the least power while having the most power. It is a strange topic to talk about how art can change the world but it does have the power to do so. There are artists who use this idea to create, while there are artists who do it subconsciously. I tend to admit this power but carefully use it when I approach my ideas and creatives. In other words, I admire the power of art while being afraid of it somehow. My idea of using this power is to use it for good. While we may not know what is true and what is right, having an idea is crucial in artwork. I tend to tame it and marinate my opinions into a secondary level in order to use this power of art while trying best to not overdo it. Just like the traditional Chinese Taoism pursuing the balance of Yin and Yang, I’m trying to balance my artwork to be gentle while powerful.”
Writer: Luigi Paglia