My Inspiration: Josie Brookes | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle-based creative team Josie Brookes Illustration and Tom Madge of AnimateCity have recently collaborated to make the music video for the recent Warm Digits single ‘The View from Nowhere’ (vocals by Emma Pollock). Josie and Tom met each other at the University of Brighton in 2001, studying Graphics & Illustration. They each have their own arts practice, but share a studio (and a family) and both work with drawing, print and collage. Animation – specifically 2D Stop-Motion – offers them the opportunity to bring their different approaches and skill sets together. In this project Josie’s work set the aesthetic tone and she created the artwork. The pair worked together to develop and make the animation and Tom edited this into the finished video.

Josie tells us more about the inspiration behind the video.

As an illustrator with a background in printmaking, I wanted to create a body of print work to be sequenced and manipulated as animation. Doing an animated music video together was something we’d been interested in for a while so we jumped at the chance to work with Warm Digits on their single ‘The View from Nowhere’. There’s a pumping, pulsating quality to their sound, which feels great married with the kinetic videos they make. When you see them live it’s very powerful, the prospect of being a part of that was really exciting. 

The song title ‘The View From Nowhere’ refers to the mid-century approach to psychotherapy which required the therapist to remove the ‘self’ from their view of the patient. The band are interested in ideas and ideals that humans struggle with when to put into practice. We hooked onto the idea of this struggle and the feeling of ebb and flow in the music and lyrics because it felt like they would translate well into movement and transformation. 

The band gave us an open brief, only asking that guest writer/vocalist Emma Pollock be represented. We had a lovely filming trip up to ‘Chem 19 Studios’ – the recording studio she runs with her husband Paul Savage. Emma’s take on her performance – that she was working in contrast to the music – helped us see how her refined presence could be somewhat aloof from the vibrant visuals we had been developing. From this idea grew the floating head, animated with around 600 printed cut-outs, which is meant to feel not quite fully human.  

That contrast gave us the opportunity to make the printed visuals a metaphor for the messy struggle happening within and between patient and therapist. Deciding to shoot against a green-screen and making lots of short loops to be digitally layered later freed me up and encouraged me to experiment with the printmaking and the animation. I liked the texture and ‘slight variations’ that come from making a sequence of prints – it suited the idea of the messy energy. Exploring colour and pattern variations allowed me to create intense sequences using different backing material. I was able to keep pushing and playing with the ideas right up to the end.

The film is designed to work as a music video and as live visuals for the band. We’re really looking forward to Warm Digits ‘Flight of Ideas’ album launch gig at The Cluny in March to see it in action. I’m also having an exhibition with a new body of work based around this project at Northern Print in September, so look out for that.

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