COMO is one part of xxmo, which stands for COllaborative and MOde. The ideas are developed and produced collectively through the continuous exchange of like-minded people. – Here you can find out more about the brains behind the project.
First feat. COMO-ARTIST:
MICHA ELIAS PICHLKASTNER
We would like to introduce you to our first featured COMO-ARTIST Micha Elias Pichlkastner. We invited Micha to join us, back in 2015 when the project xxmo|como first started. We all met at Schmiede.ca in Salzburg that year to start working on the very first projects together. Things worked out quite well from this point on and Micha is now officially part of the xxmo|como-team. We are honoured and happy to welcome this talented Multimedia-Artist, Motion Designer and Photographer on board!
MICHA ELIAS for xxmo | como:
March 2017: feat. michaelias.com
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Is there anything or anyone in particular (Film, Art etc.) that inspired you for the xxmo|como experimental short?
There are definitely a lot of things that influenced the look of the short. Two filmmakers/motion designers that definitely have been important during the process are Salomon Lighthelm and Ash Thorp. I really admire their work in a lot of ways. For everybody who is interested in that sort of stuff I highly recommend to check out their work.
Read the complete Q&A here! →
Would you like to tell us about events or experiences that influenced you throughout your life so far?
Wow, I don’t know. I guess it would be the sum of a lot of different experiences - things I got to see and feel over the years. But that’s a really vague and boring answer, so let me think of something more precise. There are a definitely a few things that stood out and had a special impact on me. Watching 2001-A Space Odyssey for the first time would be one of those things. Another one was when I got to see Tool play live in 2006. The audiovisual impression was overwhelming. Transcendental. Another special experience was to see Ryoichi Kurokawa perform live in Vienna a few years ago. Those are just a few of the highlights from a huge cloud of experiences that shaped and influenced me as a person …and the work I create.
You are a freelancer. How do you keep up a good balance between work and off time? Would you like to share experiences or inspirational activities?Hmm…maybe this detail could be interesting: I read a lot of books and in revisiting these books I am connected again quite intensely, with special times in my life. Not only that I connect places with memories or stories that originate from the books that I have read, it is more so that I have started to connect the books with my life literally, in the form of a diary. I have started to write down the date or purchase in every book I buy and I also add details of how the day went or how I felt. When I start to read it I do the same thing and also when I’m finished. It’s some kind of an abstract diary that I like to visit here and there. Other then that I do a lot of sports (soccer, climbing, swimming) to keep me in a mental and physical equilibrium. Which is not very exciting, but very important to me.
What are the subjects you are dealing with in your work conceptually? Is there anything they all have in common?Most of my work deals with the human-machine interface in some sort of way. I’m generally really interested in the impacts machines have on human behaviour and thinking and the resulting consequences those influences have. I’m also obsessed with cyber-punk and post humanism. Lately one of my main subjects is the human body and it’s importance for to our mental and physical health. Especially, in regards to how one receives and processes information via modern communication platforms or devices.
What does “dystopia” mean to you?Dystopia – good question. I guess, it’s something really present for me and not that futuristic at all. If you spend a lot of time reflecting and thinking about political and social developments, the near future seams to be a very scary and dark place. In the bottom of my heart I’m an optimist, so I hope that all the really bad and frustrating developments will create a bigger anti-movement that will overcome the misery of the present situation. It might have to get way worse than it is right now, though, for that to happen. I guess that is exactly what Dystopia means to me.
How do you approach new challenges? What are your first steps towards new projects?Cleaning my workspace is the first thing I do, before I start a new project. Then I collect all the notes (digitally and analogue) that I wrote or saved through the thinking-process. Most of the time an idea grows for months or even years inside of me, before I do a first sketch or write a first draft of something.
What are your sources of inspiration and what kind of people impress you the most?I get inspiration from pretty much everywhere. Random encounters on the street. Books, Music, Videos, Films and also observations of myself and others. I think I might be even more influenced by music and literature than I am from visual art. Even though I have to say online Platforms like Vimeo are a big source of inspiration for me too. Also museum visits, performances I watch or concerts I go to are a big part of that. I think I’m most impressed by people that are really good in different things. That means if people are able to get really professional and innovative in different fields and as a result create a unique way of combining them, can blow me away completely.
Which of your projects have a special meaning to you? Why do you like to remember them?Wow, I don’t know - every project you do and finish gives you so much and adds to you as a person and artist, in so many ways. In terms of media Art I think Replica and Frames have been really important for me in different ways. Mostly because I have been able to put a lot of myself inside of those two project and I’m really happy with how they turned out and still feel to me. But there are so many others that are also really important in that way. In terms of film I guess the XXMO-Eclipse short and the G0D-E Commercial feel closest to me.
Why did you decide to collaborate with xxmo|como? What did you like about it and what appealed to you?Well, most and foremost Amina and Jasmin have been the deciding factors. Not only because they are two beautiful people, but they also do really interesting work as well. That I’m personally really fond of dark fashion, dark design, dark music, and dark everything made the decision quite easy at the end.
What is your approach to “dark-fashion”?I guess at the end it comes down to what you feel most comfortable with. In the best case the stuff you wear reflects you as a person and turns a little bit of your inside out for others to see. Depending on my mood “dark-fashion” and in that case xxmo clothes are able to do exactly that for me.
The first chapter of the xx-narrative was called “eclipse”. How did you interpret that for yourself?It’s funny, but the moon has been a reoccurring symbol in my life over the last few years. In pretty much every book I read during that time the moon had a more or less important role. It just felt like “Eclipse” would be a closing chapter for this chain of coincidences and it pretty much suited the style of xxmo in general. Also the space imagery is something really familiar to my visual style. So all in all it just felt natural and everything came together without further effort.
How did you produce or shoot the footage for the video? Do you have personal favourites? Why are they special to you?
Those shots were created over a really long period of time. The photographs (that I later animated) from New York City were shot in fall 2013. Here you see how some of the pictures originally looked before I retouched and composited them together with other footage. (michaelias.com/work/nec_nyc)
We also shot some of the footage at the Schmiede.ca festival in 2015. Some of the macro experiments that are featured in the short were shot as early as 2012, but have been edited so heavily that it would be hard to recognize the raw footage. Everything else I shot in our studio in Vienna or in the surrounding area of the city. My favourite shot is definitely the one of my partner Allison levitating over the Hudson River in the xxmo coat.
Did anything funny happen during the shoot?
Other than our dog Ozzy running around and ruining a lot of takes (for the water and vfx-footage) I can’t think of anything right now.
Did you gain any new knowledge during process that you would like to share?
Something that really helped me with creating the destroyed city backgrounds, was a tutorial by Andrew Kramer//Video co-pilot. You can find it here. - Some really useful stuff in there. You can find a lot of helpful things on their site too if you are trying to get better in Motion Design, VFX-Stuff or Compositing in After Effects. (I’m not getting paid to say this :) )
You are now our first official COMO-ARTIST. What are your ideas, wishes or plans for the future?
Well, if everybody keeps working on the project with as much passion and love as in the last two years then there is nothing to worry about. I do have a lot of ideas that could be interesting for the near future. They vary from an animated film or installation to an xxmo comic.
Micha Elias Pichlkastner is a filmmaker, still & motion designer and media/digital artist based in Vienna, Austria. After his studies in Multimedia Art (film and photography focus,) he lived and worked in Toronto, Canada. Among other things, his work explores the impact of machines and virtual space on human behavior and deals with subjects like the human machine interface and post-humanism. Obsessed by an immersive and technoid-style, especially in terms of audiovisual symbiosis, he develops A/V installations and performances. Alongside, he works self-employed as freelancer for a huge variety of clients. Micha Elias Pichlkastner is part of the 5haus18.at-collective (VIENNA)