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An All-Inclusive Presence

Filmmaker/animator, Bryan Root, artist, Fernando Llosa, and musician, Peter Dodge, are working on an ambitious 70-minute animation for which we are raising money. 

When we have a kickstarter or gofundme page the link to that site will be here.

The title of the piece —An All-Inclusive Presence— was originally given by Fernando to a limited edition book containing an essay and a set of images selected from a large body of ink paintings made between 2004 and 2013. There are two essential and intertwined observations at the heart of that work. One is that our long-standing identification with limited, contradictory, and extremely divisive forms of personal and tribal consciousness has alienated us from the mystery of life, the fundamental source of the human presence in the cosmos. The other is that, unless we somehow manage to overcome this alienation from our natural common ground, we will continue to live in increasingly worse forms of the same cultural fragmentation and interpersonal conflict we have already suffered for thousands of years.

Early in 2016, Peter accepted Fernando’s invitation to compose the original score that would accompany a video animation of a new selection of that same group of paintings. Peter had composed and performed music for  films Bryan had done for another artist and recommended him to Fernando.The fact that Fernando’s paintings had been made on glass with the express purpose of digitizing them for the production of large-scale prints, made that particular body of pictorial work ideal for the kind of detailed animation that Bryan likes to do. He agreed to participate. 

Below is an initial fundraising video done almost a year ago. 

Since then we completed the first of three sections of the film, a five minute excerpt of which is shown here: 

(COMING SOON)

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Some information about the three artists collaborating in this project

Bryan Root

Bryan studied painting and film at Tyler School of Art and graduated with a BFA in 1986. His post-graduate filmmaking got him into the directing program at The American Film Institute where he made 4 short films in two years, won a scholarship, and attained his MFA. He spent the next 15 years working in the Los Angeles film and television industry.

He made a web-based narrative farce, spacerex.com, which he set aside in 2003, to make “Dirty Habit,” a low budget feature he wrote, directed, and edited. He has made short films for musicians, artists, and scientists and worked freelance for National Geographic, The Smithsonian Network, PBS, and Action News.

His collaboration with kinetic artist, Bob Potts became a YouTube sensation and led to worldwide exhibitions and sales of Pott’s work. Bryan’s animation of paleo-artist John Gurche‘s busts of human ancestors went viral and received 32 million views in just 3 days, and has since permeated to the utmost backwaters of the web.

For more information, please visit Bryan website at this address: https://www.motherlode-pix.com/

Peter Dodge

Peter has been a professional musician for more than 50 years and a composer for 30. He graduated from Ithaca College in 1975 with an Applied Music degree (performance/trumpet).

He began performing his own music in the early 80’s, utilizing synthesizers and tape loops to create multi-layered soundscapes.

He has collaborated with choreographers (Nancy Gaspar, Lonna Wilkinson, Judy Brophy, Bernadette Fiocca, Jill Becker); performance/ritual artists (Cly Boehs, Dinosaur, Watchface, Leeny Sack); poet/storytellers  (Peter Fortunato, Katherine Blackbird, Regi Carpenter); filmmakers (Jay Craven, Gene Katz, Photosynthesis, Peter Carroll, Bryan Root); and music ensembles (Spirit Horses, Wonder Cabinet, Cloud Chamber Orchestra); on the internet, his music accompanies illustrations of the kinetic sculptures of Bob Potts filmed and edited by Bryan Root.

Peter’s work ranges from dense noise collages to high altitude salon music, and usually features some combination of piano (grand and toy) and various wind and string instruments. 

Fernando Llosa

Fernando is an artist, writer, and bookmaker who lives and works in Trumansburg with Kim Schrag, his accomplice in life and art. The possibility of a radical revolution in human consciousness is his central concern. You can find out more about him and his work here: https://unboundart.com/

Who Made the Evolution Video?

star32 Million views in 3 days?

First of all, I am a filmmaker, not a spokesman for Yale University Press or Gurche Reconstructions and what I think or say does not necessarily represent the views of the publisher or the artist.

John Gurche commissioned me to make an animation of his incredibly life-like reconstructions of human ancestors to help promote his book, Shaping Humanity, which was published by Yale University Press in November, 2013. 

This short evolution video took me slightly less than actual evolutionary time to make–drawing thousands of “missing links” between John’s reconstructions and tweaking the software (aftereffects, photoshop and twixtor) to create smooth transitions. His sculptures, which he arrives at using anatomical data from dissections of humans and apes, built over casts of actual skulls (like you’ve seen on forensics shows like Quincy and Bones), take considerably longer. This film represents years of work and decades of scientific inquiry.

What we were promoting

John’s book, which is sumptuous, well-written, and fascinating, will answer many of the questions that the poachers who’ve posted our video cannot. He is more than a clever reconstructor of early primates, he’s an intellectual powerhouse. A visionary. The soul and spirit that John Gurche breathes into the faces of our ancestors is what makes this film so powerful.

We had all hoped the film would go viral and John and his publisher would sell lots of books and I would become a sought-after animator (the seamless morphing from one ancestor to the next WAS my idea).

Evolution Video making of screenshot
Shaping Humanity Animation Rendering.

The movie shows still images morphing from one known ancestor to the next, over two  minutes.  We were all sure it would be a hit.  But the YouTube response was less than viral. At first.

“We’ve been robbed!”

Inverse FaceBook mediaNow, TWO YEARS after the book was published, and fueled by a public debate I’ll steer clear of (mostly–see comments here), a version of the film that Inverse, chopped the credits and the watermark off of and called their own, (thanks alot) was posted to FaceBook and has gotten 32 million views in three days.

Intellectual property theft, or just another sort of evolution?

On one hand I’m annoyed that the film has been “taken away” (posted by someone else with no reference to us, the artist/author, filmmaker, musicians), on the other, I am just glad that it’s finally taken off.   I certainly don’t want to complain about 32 million views. Maybe the loss of credit and context was just that tiny little mutation, adaptation, if you will (and I’m not saying you have to), that this film needed to thrive in the collective consciousness.

star“Some primatologists consider the possibility that we are moving toward a species-wide unit, a kind of global organism” writes Gurche in the last chapter of his book, Shaping Humanity

The internet, and social media in particular, bears this theory out (this is me talking now, not John). I propose that this sort of viral social media makes ownership a moot point. Greg McGrath, Richie Stearns, Bing McCoy and I helped John make a great film of his amazing paleo art and Inverse, bless their black little hearts,  just performed the final, all-important step in the assimilation of the information; they stole it from us and delivered it to the hive mind in a form it could digest.Q: “Why does it end on a white man?”  (the debate I’m staying mostly away from).

A: It’s the face of the paleo-artist who recreated, with his own two hands, all the faces that have preceded it. Out of context (as it’s been served up by Inverse) the question is harder to answer and the debate about evolution and race may have helped the edited film go viral. It’s become a sort of collective koan (unanswerable question, dummy). In our version of the film, it is clear that the video was made to promote a book by a particular homo sapiens about why and how he came to be the world’s expert on paleolithic  reconstructions. A whole wing of the Smithsonian Museum is dedicated to his sculptures.  So he seemed like as good a face as any to put there.

starAs the the question of the final evolution of man, I propose that the stolen film, the ongoing debate, the viral phenomenon, the internet, THIS is the continuing evolution of mankind–an endless string of comments, a storm in our our brand-new “hive mind.” It’s perfect! Read the book

We do our best to make sure our work is as good as it can be and we toss it out into the deep water, chum it with some good tags and descriptions and hope for a feeding frenzy. I suppose anyone truly interested in the filmmaking and art could find the version with credits easily enough. Actually, that’s what this post is all about. Here it is.

Please comment.

John Gurche

Bryan Root, Homo Naledi and John Gurche
John’s latest sculpture is so new and exciting that we can’t look directly at it. Very hard to photograph.

I was expecting to be buried deep in the credits of a film with lots of other cameramen when I got hired to shoot John Gurche at work in his studio on the reconstruction of the exciting new human ancestor, Homo Naledi, for National Geographic. Imagine my excitement yesterday, when I saw that they edited together my footage into a distinct film to itself! 

See the film on National Geographic’s Website.star

Below is National Geographic’s feature about the discovery of Homo Naledi, which features some of my camerawork as well:

Rongovian Embassy Poster for February 2015

Rongo-150129Poster4
footer logo designed by Q Cassetti

I’ve been fascinated by the timeline of history on the wall of the Rongovian Embassy since the first time I went there in the early eighties and that became the concept.

Q Cassetti designed the footer for the poster, which gave a strong foundation, and  set the bar very high for whatever I had to come up with. The Rongo is the most famous landmark in Trumansburg (See Wikipedia) and the public house of my own community. It is a legendary destination dating back to my infancy. So there was no pressure whatsoever. _R2_3472Babel

I drew the Rongo building in the style of the tower of Babel–from whence, according to the Timeline of History, many of the bloodlines of humanity are traced.

TimelineOfHistoryHankRoberts

I felt the need to bring back a little of the clutter and patina of the old Rongo. The place needed (I just have to say it) a high colonic. And it got one. Which is good.  But I am very sentimental about nicotine stains, yellowed paper and other visible signs of human habitation.

I cast around for a few days for concept to hang a poster idea on. Of course this required putting some time into “getting the vibe” of the newly-renovated bar. I’m pleased to report that the Rongo is in very good hands. It’s a very very nice place to hang around in. The beer, mixed drinks and food are excellent and affordable.

Make It Up To You

UniitJebSim

Uniit Carruyo sings her own song, "Make It Up To You," backed up by Jeb Puryear (guitar), Sim Redmond (bass), Hank Roberts (cello) and Mark Raudabaugh (drums), at the newly-reopened Rongovian Embassy in Trumansburg, New York November 29th. 2014.

A Motherlode Pictures production of a Bryan Root film, House sound by John Lloyd. Produced by Dan Paolangeli. Camera by Bryan Root, Dan Paolangeli, John Gurche and Jonas Puryear. Post-Production by Will Dailyrest.

Special thanks to Jessica Giles, Calf Audio, Luigi Llanos and Gregory McGrath.UniitRongoSweetLike0