Max Hattler is a moving-image artist whose work is difficult to sum up into words – his animation is abstract and the screening (may it be in a gallery space or projected onto the Regent’s Canal) of his works are always playful and innovative. He has collaborated with various visual and sound artists to create his inimitable ‘conceptual aesthetics’ which continue to win various awards and prizes during film festivals. Alongside his animation work, Max is also working towards a Professional Doctorate in Fine Art, and lectures at various art schools in London. He’s now back in London after a very busy year of attending film festivals, organising workshops, residencies, teaching and a solo show at Tenderpixel. We caught up with Max to find out more about his latest video which premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2012.
YOUR LATEST VIDEO ‘A VERY LARGE INCREASE IN THE SIZE, AMOUNT, OR IMPORTANCE OF SOMETHING OVER A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME’ (‘A VERY…’) WAS PREMIERED AT ERARTA IN ST. PETERSBURG IN LATE 2012. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PROJECT?
A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very Short Period of Time is inspired in part by ideas around organic growth, bifurcation processes, fractals and chaos theory, which in some sense link back to previous works 1923 aka Heaven and Sync.
The project came about through an invitation from Multivision Festival in St. Petersburg. Sync won the award for Best Video Installation there in 2011, and they were aware of my previous workshop/sweatshop works 1923 aka Heaven and 1925 aka Hell, which I directed during five days with a group of student animators and CG artists at The Animation Workshop in Denmark in 2010. So during the five days workshop, I worked with a team of Russian animators to create this new piece which was then exhibited at Erarta. I split the work up into three sections which were then developed by teams of two to three animators, and eventually combined and linked to make the whole piece. The video exists as a loop for gallery exhibitions and also as film with titles and credits.
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THE LONG TITLE?
After all my recent one-word film titles, culminating in last year’s water screen projection work X, I really felt like using a bit of a longer title. Also ‘A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very ShortPeriod of Time’ is the Macmillan Dictionary definition of the word explosion.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT SOUND TO ACCOMPANY YOUR VIDEOS?
Sound is always very important to me, but at the same time, I have tended not to do the sound for my films myself for various reasons. In this case, the soundtrack for the first showing at Erarta was created by Dan Orlov, one of the animators on the team, who jumped to the rescue as our dedicated Russian sound designer didn’t come back after the first day. At first I thought I had scared him off by telling him that I’m very difficult to work with when it comes to sound, and occasionally change sound designer or composer halfway through a project. But it turned out that he ended up in hospital instead.
The soundtrack for the final version was made by Dutch micro-editing wunderkind Julien Mier who I’d been wanting to collaborate with for a while. He is currently working with ideas around the sonification of abstract creatures, and when I showed him the project he immediately jumped at it. I gave Julien free rein, with Dan Orlov’s very ambient sound as a starting point, and some indications on a much tighter synchronisation of sound and image. There was a bit of back and forth, as Julien’s initial version was too extreme in its synchronisation – something that’s very rare! I made him tone it down a bit. Usually it’s me pushing to make things more synced.
YOUR VIDEOS HAVE BEEN SCREENED AT HUNDREDS OF FILM FESTIVALS AS WELL AS IN GALLERY SPACES, ARE THERE ANY FESTIVALS YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO AND WOULD LIKE TO GO?
I would love to go to Cannes, Venice, Sundance and SXSW one day. But I always really enjoy discovering festivals in obscure and less travelled places. For this year, I’ve been invited to be on the jury at Tofuzi Animation Festival in Batumi, Georgia, which I’m really looking forward to.
WHAT’S THE STRANGEST AWARD OR PRIZE THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED FOR YOUR FILMS?
That would most certainly be the robotic vacuum cleaner, which I won for Everything Turns at Filming East Festival in Oxford in 2007.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO RECENTLY IN LONDON?
I’m currently trying to concentrate on my Professional Doctorate in Fine Art. It’s a 5-year part-time endeavour and fairly low maintenance, or so I seemed to think. I’m suddenly finding myself in fourth year realising I need to do some work, and fast, if I really want to emerge as Dr. Max next year.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
Apart from trying to get to grips with my Doctorate, and working on new films, I shall be talking about my work in Plymouth and Manchester next month. After that, various artist residencies are in the planning, as well as festival engagements, but it’s all a bit early for any definites.
Watch A Very… here.