Friday, 27 April 2012

A recent interview on Smartspace...

March 2012

It must be so tempting for an artist to pick up one’s pencils and doodle on a fresh, blank slate of a wall such as the one next to artist Yanyun Chen’s desk. In this office setting however, she contents herself with posting various pieces of artwork to lend the space her own unique quirk.

Yanyun and fellow artist Sara Chong make up the duo collective Stick and Balloon. Rather, Yanyun is Stick to Sara’s Balloon; the name being a light-hearted jibe on their appearances. The two university mates bonded over fantastical art style and Eastern European influences that are heavily evident in their stop-motion, hand-drawn animation film Moonchild.

Successfully melding their two aesthetics with Sara building the puppets and Yanyun the set, they have been collaborating on the film ever since it took shape as a final year school project. The story features a shy fiddler trying to overcome his timidity and gets attracted to a moon-spirit. The project reached its target U.S. $2,000 only 20 hours after launching on crowdfunding site Kickstarter and raised a total U.S.$6,573.

With backing like that, Yanyun says that they are on the last stretch of production on the eight-minute film and they hope to finish in the next couple of months.

“We’re just polishing up and finalising sounds,” she said. They connected with folk tunes sent by an Irish fiddler friend, but this led down a winding musical road. “We spent a year-and-a-half hunting musicians to get rights to use their music; it was a long process because they were real gypsies and they don’t go online!”

Most recently though, the artists been busy with a Facebook game called JimmyFish, which Yanyun art directed and Sara animated. Working with clients Nexus Singaporeand design lab Shyalala, Stick and Balloon was tasked to conceptualise a game to teach children ways to save the environment. Hence, their unlikely hero Jimmy was born.

Jimmy is stuck in an outlandish fish costume that his mother picked for him. He has three minutes to roam the house and find ways to save electricity, water and other resources, for which he gets eco-dollars to exchange for a different costume. Consequently, the weather conditions also change outside – from a gloomy day of raining fish to a sunny one.

The game garnered a “Jury Selection Work” award for outstanding works at the 15th Japan Media Arts Festival in February.

Stick and Balloon moved to SmartSpace in September 2011 and have since collaborated with fellow members PlayMoolah and participated in Relay Room’s Creative Mixer.

“It’s been very good,” said Yanyun of the atmosphere. “There’s a nice energy going.”

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