This animated film is an absolute trip — on more levels than one

Watch "Forestsss Fortresss" by this week's Exhibitionist in Residence, Toronto artist Eli Schwanz.

Watch 'Forestsss Fortresss' by this week's Exhibitionist in Residence, Toronto artist Eli Schwanz

Still from "Forestsss Fortresss," a film by this week's Exhibitionist in Residence, Eli Schwanz. (Courtesy of the artist)

This Friday, it's time to go exploring.

On the new episode of Exhibitionists, we'll be airing segments of "Forestsss Fortresss" by Eli Schwanz throughout the show. The Toronto artist is this week's Exhibitionist in Residence, and his animated film doubles as a mysterious voyage, one that will take you soaring over neon jungles and plains, floating on a burbling soundtrack by Montreal synth musician Satri.

It's a trip on a couple of levels — one that might leave you asking a few obvious questions: where is this place, for one thing, and where in the world are all the people?

You'll encounter a few buildings on the ride, sure, but they're usually solitary — eerie and abandoned — as are other seemingly discarded signs of life. (What's up with all the lonely beach umbrellas?)

To me, [the film] is a study in exploring different strongholds and spaces.- Eli Schwanz, artist

"There's some bleakness to it," says Schwanz while talking to CBC Arts about the piece, but he hopes that the mystery of the film gets you to watch it again (and again, and again). Lucky for you, it's posted here for your repeated viewing.

Like forests with superflous s's and otherwise, the film's fantasy worlds are complicated places. They're inviting, says Schwanz, but also impenetrable. So, his question to the viewer is this: "What can you find in between those extremes?" 

"To me, [the film] is a study in exploring different strongholds and spaces," he says. "I hope [viewers] consider the relationship of each space to each other."

"That maybe won't be the first thought," he admits. "But those questions might form on closer inspection."

A long-time commercial director, the 36-year-old finished his MFA at OCAD University this spring, and his artistic practice often combines animation with installation, light sculpture and video. This film, "Forestsss Fortresss," is also appearing on screens at Drake Hotel properties in Toronto and area as part of their Drake AV video-art programming.

It's actually one in a series of experimental animated films that Schwanz began this summer. See them all on his website.

Watch "Forestsss Fortresss" below.

Watch Exhibitionists online or on Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) on CBC Television.

Want to see your creations on CBC Arts? Just send us an e-mail! You could be an Exhibitionist in Residence this season.

About the Author

Leah Collins is the Senior Writer at CBC Arts.


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