Animation and Its Healing Nature: Interview with Simone Hooymans

Animation and Its Healing Nature: Interview with Simone Hooymans

The universe of Simone Hooymans is a metaphysical mixture of nature , along with a nostalgic romanticism that quickly provokes a kind of reflection about our own natures and what we see in her animation loops.

With exhibitions in different cities in Norway, her work has become more and more popular and appreciated, perhaps because she speaks honestly from her instincts and commitment as an artist living in our uncertain days.

Kropka talked with Simone to better understand her work, her motivations and her new projects.

ZF: With a postgraduate degree in fine arts, when did you first discover that animation could help you to express yourself as an artist?

SH: Animation became a step by step part of my work as a visual artist. I was focused on performance, video art and drawing. Animation started as an addition to my performative video works. It supported the realization of a longing to step into my drawing. First, with stop motion and later with animation programs. I have given myself one basic rule and that is that I want my handmade pencil-and ink drawings to stay 2D while I build a 3D world around them.

ZF: How important is contemplation in the creative process of your work?

SH: It is the ground of my process. It is a way of being able to be in the moment and to make my work not only with my thoughts but even more with my heart. My emotions and inner world speak out more in my works than the logic of the mind. So I work very intuitively and mostly without a fully written script or storyboard.

ZF: Animation is a dynamic art, but you work for the intent gaze and the slow movements. What do you expect the audience will find in your animated pieces?

SH: Yes, I ask something from my audience. Often they have to stay for a while to see and discover what happens in my animation. As soon as someone is willing to do that they become automatically part of the work, in the role of observer in the film. This is one of the reasons there are no human characters in my animations. Even if they have seen the animation already several times, they often don’t want to let go and seek to stay in this universe just a little bit longer. That is why I mostly make works that can play in a video loop. I like the endlessness. The animations are immersive, so the audience find themselves often dissolved in another world which they do not need to intellectually understand. They just have to connect emotionally. And while I speak to the audience through emotion, I also dare to open up serious subjects like the global environmental crisis, natural disasters and how fear can transform you as a human being.

ZF: What made you fall in love with Norway enough to move and live there?

SH: The powerful, rough nature and dramatic fjord landscapes attracted me to come to Norway. And the fact that you can live so close to that pureness. Nature and the rough climates of Norway are ruling the day! We as human beings have to adjust ourselves to that. That gives me a feeling of being alive!

ZF: Did you think that your works would become so relevant when you started working with nature as a theme and concept?

SH: I was not thinking about that. I am working with my fascination and imagination. I grew up in a family that was very conscious of nature and that we (as humans within it) are responsible to preserve it. My works became more and more relevant throughout the years. People are becoming more aware of what happens to the earth by way of human intervention. People are waking up.

ZF: I ask it because we are in a hyper-modern world where nature is just something nice to see. But nowadays, your work seems like a necessary meditation to stop and rethink nature as something real that could be our salvation; if, we start to take care of it in a profound way. What do you think about it?

SH: In my animations nature is a wonderful place to be in but it often has an ominous undertone, like a warning of an impending darkness. One of my favorite poems which is always with me while creating is from the Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue:

Landscape is the first born of creation / It was here long before we were ever dreamed /
It was here without us. It watched us arrive / How strange we must have seemed.

ZF: Another important aspect of your work is the music. For example, in your latest work Talking Plants, you collaborate with Heidi Torsvik, Lazerus Winter and Mari Kvien Brunvoll among others. How does the incorporation of independent music artists take place?

SH: In different ways. Sometimes I have been asked to make an animation for a specific song. For example for the band Building Instrument for their song “Rett Ned” and for Røyst Trio for their song “The Quiet Beauty”. Other times I am the one that asks to collaborate in my animation project. In the case of “Talking Plants," for example, I asked 12 international composers and musicians to make an interpretation of a plant in sound that had a duration no longer than 30 seconds.

They were totally free in their interpretation and that made it very exciting for me. I received many different sound-miniatures that I composed into one soundtrack for my animation. Everybody had an influence on how the work would be in the end. This has a lot to do with trust and listening to each other. I therefore always work together with musicians that I have a special vibe with.

ZF: Do you think animation is an art that can help to heal physical or mental problems? Something like animated-therapy?

SH: It definitely does something with our imagination. You can play with endless possibilities and allow that nothing is too weird. It surprised me in the beginning that many people were so enchanted when they had seen my animations. One step further would be animation combined with VR. Where, actually, you can step into this world. Now there is a lot of research as to how VR might help with the healing processes, both metal as physical. I am in the beginning of developing my first VR project. I am curious how my animations will be experienced in VR.

ZF: Do we have to see and hear more in nature?

SH: We are nature! But it seems like we are not aware of it anymore. Our perspective would change if this consciousness was stronger.

ZF: Are you preparing something new that you can tell us about?

SH: I am working on an ambitious animation / video installation project called: 'The Perpetual Tapestry.' An experimental animation about a collapsing world where everything is connected by threads in a woven tapestry. It is a project where I deepen the theme of natural disasters by looking at historical movements in humanity and share my personal view of the repeating history of natural and political disasters throughout centuries.

ZF: It sounds very interesting. We hope to enjoy this new project as soon it will be ready.

Her most recent work Earthfall will be screened online during the Animafest Zagreb (World Panorama) on September 29th.

contributed by Kropka

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