Official Premiere: November 23rd, 2015
Hello, Ben here, slowly starting to get my shit together on this blog. Last night, we were gifted by a brand new episode of Off The Air, a very strange 11-minute collection of creative visuals airing at 4am in the morning, and portal to the human expression. This is the third out of four episodes releasing this year (plus the amazing Dan Deacon music video), and this time, the show is about HOLES and other openings, voids or orifices.
So I decided to make a recap of this episode. Yeah, for real. Now, you may be asking yourself “how the hell is that guy gonna do that? This show is non-linear and lacks of any coherence, plot or logic! A recap of this shit is practically undescriptable!” Well, while it’s true that this show is impossible to be properly explained with words, I can be able to provide some context from the shorts, animations and artists featured in this episode. But first, I’m gonna invite you to see the show for yourself, now available on YouTube. Now let’s discover what’s inside that hole:
We open with a misterious treasure from the weird side of YouTube: “DIY weatherize hole tutorial”, a video made by alantutorial two years ago, where this disturbed young man who is obsessed with making tutorials, roaming around in the wilderness and inviting people to subscribe to his account. He takes off his underwear and puts the cloth inside a hole to teach us how to weatherize a hole. It doesn’t make much sense, but it leaves you wondering what’s going on inside his troubled mind. This is part of a dark fictional series of videos crafted by Alan Resnick, a performance artist from Baltimore, member of the Wham City collective and a close friend of the show. You may have seen some of his Infomercial shorts on Adult Swim, such as Live Forever As You Are Now and Unedited Footage of a Bear. I encourage you to watch the complete alantutorial series in order, take a look at all the details in the background and try to figure out what may be happening around this character. It gets darker and more terrifying by the minute.
A datamosh transition leads us into the insides of a cave, followed by the title of the episode, while we experience the bright visuals of an animated piece called “Inside Me” by Dmitry Zakharov, a motion graphics designer from Germany. As the description says, this project is based on a virtual 3D-scanning of the artist’s own head, a computer generated version of himself. “It is possible to view this object not just from outside, but also from the inside as a negative as well, which creates abstract shapes. The colouration was generated with the help of colour data he took from a real picture.” As we see all the holes that shape the surface of the human head and all those lines of color flowing through them, this piece is played along with the synthesizer tunes of “Léviathan”, song by Flavien Berger, a really catchy track from the Paris-based electronic album of the same name, under the Pan European Recording label.
While Dmitry’s digital head is slowly fading away, on the most smooth transition ever, we enter through a blurred portal. It’s a short film called “Abstraction 48” by Morgan Beringer, an American video artist based in London, UK. His art style is unique and highly recognizable – you may have seen him also on the episode NATURE – and it’s practically impossible to know for sure how was it made. It’s a hypnotic composition of still images constantly morphing into others, and that can really fool your perception. You see a worried man’s face, then it changes into what might seem to be another person, it’s hard to figure it out, then it morphs into a horse, then it changes again on the blink of an eye. The intense imagery and haunting incidental music can really mess with your mind late at night. This video is part of an ongoing series of abstract films that Morgan has been making for years. He’s done 49 out of 64 so far. Go check his Vimeo channel for more of his work.
Then this episode abruptly cuts to a timeless classic in the history of weird shorts: a brief excerpt of the 2000’s Oscar-nominated short film “Rejected”, animated by Don Hertzfeldt. This creator is planetarily known for his minimalistic cartoon style and absurdist dark humor, and this short is by far the most popular he’s done, about a collection of rejected faux intersitials and commercials that he presented to the corporate advertising teams, and the unstable world where these cartoons lived in. The legendary “my anus is bleeding” scene is still referenced by many, and the happy cheering fluffy guys are still so hilarious and bizarre to me. Fun Fact: This short film was supposed to be broadcasted “uncut and commercial free” on Adult Swim back in Nov 2002, but after weeks of heavy promotion, it was pulled at the last minute due to unknown reasons and problems with content. Which means that 14 years later, a scene of this short was finally aired on the network. That’s a historical achievement right there. It goes to show the amazing evolution of Standards & Practices throughout the years. Check out Don Hertzfeldt’s work if you haven’t. I highly recommend it! His latest project “World of Tomorrow” is available now on Vimeo On Demand.
The next feature on this episode is an original animation for the show coming from Nashville-based illustrator Drew Tyndell, simply called “Loop Hole”. He makes delightful looping animations painted frame by frame, in which he combines geometrical shapes, human sillouettes running into holes and matching color palettes all coexisting and echoing in perfect harmony. It’s like a moving op art painting. The lounge instrumentals accompanying this piece make it even better. I would contemplate this for hours. Also, he just sneaked a small Space Ghost flying in that part! That’s awesome! There’s a Space Ghost character hidden on almost every episode of the show, if you haven’t noticed.
Then we jump into a condensed edit of the trippy music video for Panda Bear’s “Boys Latin”, directed by Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch from Encyclopedia Pictura. You may recognize it, since this music video was aired previously on the Toonami block back in December 2014. The overwhelming melody and cryptic lyrics from the Animal Collective drummer are paired with the visuals of a young girl poking her finger inside the hole of a sea anemone, and then dealing with the dynamic transformative changes on her body. Then she encounters a man experiencing the same weird troubles, and she helps him to get through this process. It’s a story of change, adaptation and support inside this psychedelic fantasyland. This song is part of the album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, co-produced with Sonic Boom, and it has really deep thoughts about personal growth. ♪ “Beasts don’t have a second to think / but we don’t appreciate our things” ♪ The fantastic CG graphics were composed at Encyclopedia Pictura, a San Francisco animation studio that specializes on making a lot of creative and organic worlds and creatures, and has worked on various mindblowing shorts and music videos for artists like Grizzly Bear and Byörk. Highly recommendable!
The next segment of this episode is “Down the Rabbit Hole”, animation by Merijn Hos, an illustrator and visual artist from the Netherlands. The whole idea of going through a rabbit hole is practically obligatory on this episode. This animation was originally produced as a teaser to promote an annual music festival in Beuningen. It’s a fast visual trip with a lot of spining circles, pastel colors and warbling sounds that can turn your screen into a transportating journey. And it mixes really well with the transitions. This artist also makes a lot of art ilustrations for magazines and advertisements, and hand-painted wood structures.
Our sudden trip leads us to a very strange web video called “Stare Down” by Michael Shanks, also known on the Internet as Timtimfed. He’s a Melbourn-based independent filmmaker, who is mostly known for making silly videogame parodies, music videos and other bizarre YouTube content, all of them overcharged with some of the best computer graphics and special effects. On this short video, he’s starring as one of the two cowboys in the middle of a western duel, each one trying to make the most deadly stare possible, and they grunted so hard they ended up imploding themselves, creating a couple of black holes that sucked in the whole planet. The whole thing is extremely disturbing and hysterical, and the computer effects and sound mixing on it are pure perfection.
And the window is now closed. The final piece on this episode is “Shelter”, an animation by Carl Burton, a 3D graphic designer and animator from New York. This is a visual journey around the view of a somber attic that is constantly evolving into an endless unnerving spiral of wood, as the credits roll. This inmersive trip gets more and more abstract, the boxes and lamps are thrown into this place, the sense of spatial location is getting lost, and the haunting distant melodies of the song “Left Speaker Blown” by the three-piece band Liars make this atmosphere even more unsettling. It really gets into your head. The original “Shelter” short is about 6 minutes long, and the endless attic gets even more twisted and tangled up. This episode ends, once again, going back to the beginning, as Alantutorial concludes his little how-to video, inviting us to like, subscribe and leave a comment below.
And that’s HOLES from Off The Air. I hope your mind is now back in its place after this recap. As always, this was a rollercoaster of abstract sensations, and although it had less featured videos than other episodes of the show, it’s still an amazing, highly replayable selection of pieces that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Special props to Dave Hughes, Cody DeMatteis and the rest of the OTA team for keeping on making these. If you like this show, check out the OTA Facebook page for show announcements and even more hidden gems from the Internet. And remember that the fourth episode of this season will be revealed next month. Also, you can always watch the complete series on YouTube or the 24/7 Off The Air Stream on adultswim.com.
Do you seriously want to read more recaps of this odd show? Leave a comment for us!