How do you raise funds for that next exhibition? New York animation gang Cartune Xprez are trying a new angle for their latest project Special Effect – crowd-funding. Special Effect will see 18 experimental animators, including James Duesing, Jacob Ciocci and Amy Lockhart, make work inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film ‘Stalker’. We talk to founder Peter Burr about the concept and the funding process.
You've asked filmmakers to create work about to 'The Zone' base on Andrei Tarkovsky's STALKER- why did you chose this work?
I first watched STALKER a few years ago and was wholly infected by Tarkovsky's feeling of 'the zone'. Part of it, I think, is that its so understated. Everytime I watch the film I have a new reading about what's going on with it, there's something rich in those ruins. At one point the zone feels like a sign of thwarted hopes and failure, a place pregnant with decay and loss. Yet it is also all about maintaining hope...Stalker bring us there purely out of hope.
And how does the project title, Special Effect, relate to STALKER?
In the full scope of our project, there's the zone and there's the non-zone. The zone is a place of beauty and emptiness. The non-zone is dense, full of the dreams of other people. In the show we will be projecting those dreams as animated video works aiming to stick them in the dreams of the audience like so many jingles got stuck in mine throughout my life. That's a very special effect: the power to project our dreams into the dreams of others.
Kickstarter and other crowd funding websites are growing rapidly in popularity as traditional forms of funding, government and otherwise, are tightened. What avenues had you taken before deciding to use Kickstarter?
Cartune Xprez used to operate through grant-funding, DVD sales, and touring. We decided this year not to put out another large-run DVD and instead turn to this new model of crowdsourcing to support the project. We are aiming to use KICKSTARTER as a way to distribute this work as home entertainment (but in a limited edition as opposed to our previous publications); pre-book shows around the world to structure our 2013 touring schedule; and give our audience a role in the creation of the work.
How does the use of crowd-funding websites such as Kickstarter reflect upon the idea of the artist and the creation of the artwork - does it indicate a commercialisation of the artform? Or has the whole structure altered so much with the internet and social media that the role of artist and curator must intrinsically encompass marketing of the project?
That's a complicated question! In a way I see it as QVC [home shopping channel] for the internet generation. Commercialisation for sure. Special Effect, in its embrace of the non-zone, felt like the right project to flirt with the home-shopping feeling. In the next phase of the project we'll be taking everyone out of this rat race to hang out with us in the zone for a little while. We'll listen to some cricket chirps while we sit on burnt fields.
Are you using social media platforms to promote the project funding effort also?
A practical answer to a practical question: KICKSTARTER doesn't exist in a vacuum. Without Twitter, facebook, and other current social media platforms it doesnt work.
What incentives do you offer prospective donators?
My favorite incentive is 'We will bring the show to you!' It's our biggest reward and I'm approaching this as a way to structure our 2013 touring schedule. On the other end of the spectrum we are offering a ticket to see the show, so you can help us produce this work for the same price as coming to see the show. Also, one-of-a-kind lenticular prints from the Cartune Xprez artist of your choice, DVDs, and hand-painted cells from Amy Lockhart's exquisite film "Walk For Walk".
Have you seen ideas for the films as yet? What has got you very excited to see manifest?
To name one, I am excited about James Duesing's involvement (he's been one of my mentors as an experimental animator). He is exploring the idea of moving on from a feeling of loss through the physical weight of what is left behind. In Roadside Picnic, the book that Stalker is based on, the zone is populated with objects of mysterious value. Stalkers in the book go into the zone to learn about these objects, and it is from this point that James finds his vision. As he put it, "The objects are not sentimental, they are indicators that you only have a certain number of days and you should like the climate, put great things in your mouth and be with some one who is really great for you on as many of them as possible. "
Read more about the artists involved and where the project will go on the Cartune Xprez Special Effect Kickstarter page