© 2019 annasteenson

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INK

ON THE STORY:

ink is a short film about transformation in the face of adversity. Thematic elements of the story revolve around books and words and even though ink contains no spoken words, new forms of dialogue emerge through the development of the underlying music and the progression of visuals. This is the story of a character who feels isolated from the outside world. He struggles with a reading challenge, dyslexia, and he has given up hope. Through the narrative structure of a monomyth, a hero’s journey, the character is transformed as he travels from an ordinary world into an extraordinary world by means of an unexpected journey through layers of motivic and thematic elements. His character develops through various tests along his adventure ultimately leading him through phases of introspection: fear of change, letting go, acceptance, and reflection. On the surface, the battle he faces may seem to be finding coping mechanisms to allow him to read, but the focus of ink is actually on the transformation of the character’s self-confidence and struggle with resilience. The music trajectory follows his journey and the musical ideas comprise transformative sections as follows:

  1. INTRODUCTION: INK TITLE

  2. PRELUDE: THE CITY

  3. CONTEMPLATION: BOOK READING AND DISCOURAGEMENT

  4. ANGST: EXPLOSION AND LEVITATION

  5. INTERLUDE: TIGHTROPE TEXT

  6. REFLECTION: FALLING INTO THE VOID

  7. INTRIGUE: THE INK BEHIND THE PAGE

  8. TENSION: THE FOREST

  9. EXPANSE: IT IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT YOU THINK

  10. LINGER: A NEW CHAPTER

  11. ENVELOPE: LOST HOPE

  12. RESILIENCE: ANTI-GRAVITY

  13. DETERMINATION: PURSUING THOUGHTS

  14. REMEMBRANCE: THE DARK CITY - CONFRONTING THE PAST

  15. TURMOIL: EMBERS

  16. DEVELOP: SPARK OF CHANGE

  17. MOTION: HOLDING ONTO WHAT MATTERS

  18. FAMILIARITY: INTROSPECTION AND DETERMINATION

  19. CONCLUSION: THE END

 

ON THE ART:

The art inspiration emerges from an Estonian graphic designer’s paper art style. Eiko Ojala’s art includes a mixture of digital illustration, paper textures, and shadows to create captivating graphic design illustrations that appear to have been intricately cut out of paper. Visually, the animation of ink references pages of a book by using layered paper textures within a two-dimensional world.

ON THE MUSIC:

One of the most impressionable moments in my life was the Parkersburg tornado in May of 2008. Parkersburg is a small town in northeast Iowa. When I was ten, my family and I were visiting family near Parkersburg when a great storm hit the area. I distinctly remember our family driving in the storm and it was as if the sky was split in two. Looking out the car window I saw one side of the sky that was bright and serene while the other side was dark and intense. Once we spotted the tornado, we turned around to wait out the storm. After the storm passed, it was clear that the tornado had decimated Parkersburg. Trees were broken off at the stump, houses were gone, and seven people had died. A few months later, we drove back through the town. The destruction and devastation was still very present, but there was an eery calmness in the air. This feeling stuck with me and greatly affected my emotions. I was at a loss on how to process this calamity so I turned to music. I had just begun to learn how to play cello and my professor, Dr. Ashley Sidon, had recently performed a powerful minimalist piece for a Good Friday service at our church. The performance of “Spiegel Im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt and the call to process my emotions through music led me to compose my first piece for cello.

As I was developing the score for ink, I thought back on the minimalist piece I had written ten years ago. I wanted to capture the emotional battle that led me to compose this piece because in the story of ink, the character is fighting most of his battles internally along his journey and the outward expression of conflict and emotion is often subtle. With the repetitiveness of minimalism, any slight change to a rhythmic or harmonic pattern draws attention and can have profound emotional impact. The melody and chords for the animation score emerged from this first cello composition I had written. - Anna Steenson, March 2019

SYNOPSIS: 

Once in a city, there was a young boy who was reading a book. The words danced upon the page and their meaning escaped his grasp. Discouraged, the young boy threw the book down in frustration. As the book hit the surface, the words began to lift off the page and circle around the boy. The words swirled around him, transporting him into the pages of the book, enveloping him into a new narrative. Even though he is now a character in a book, he still struggles to read and stumbles over the words. He trips and falls off of the page and into the inky depths below. He falls in limbo and is ultimately swallowed by an inky void, transporting him into an inky octopus lair.

He is confused by his surroundings but sees a book and bends over to pick it up. Opening it, he realized he still has a challenge reading and he gives up. This frustration solidifies his discouragement and he drops the book on the ground. Suddenly, an octopus appears and picks up the book to show the boy. Something is different this time. The boy reaches towards the book and the book shows a picture of a forest. The pages expand to consume the scene. Venturing into the dark forest, the boy is frightened and tries to hide from the surroundings. Eyes appear in the dark spaces between trees. The boy is terrified until one of the glowing dots that had appeared to be eyes, approaches him and turns out to be a firefly. The boy reaches out towards the firefly but it quickly flies to the opposite direction causing the boy to follow after it. The firefly leads the boy through the dark forest into a brighter and magic part of the forest where the boy takes in the awe of his surroundings. Here, the firefly leaves the boy and joins other fireflies to make up a magical glowing tree. The page turns and this time, the boy is walking across the text again when suddenly ink falls from the top of the paper and coats the whole page, swallowing the boy once again. He is lost in the flood.

 

After darkness, the firefly emerges again from the edge of the scene but transforms into a flashlight. The light moves around and eventually finds the boy sitting in the darkness. The light expands immensely and transforms into a moon. As the moon leaves the surface of the earth, the boy begins to float with it, traveling up to space. Stars appear, but if you look closely, the orbs turn into letters and constellations turn into words. The boy moves to the side of the moon and releases a collection of stars that spell out “let go.” As he reaches for this, the stars begin to fall and the character dives after them. The stars fall down to a grey city below. The boy appears on a bridge and looks out at the city, reminiscing on his own city.

 

In the distance, embers rise and a fire begins to sweep through the city. The source of the fire is a pile of burning books. The boy walks towards them and picks up a book. As soon as he does, the city searchlights come on. Frightened, he takes the book and begins to run. He runs across the bridge as it is being swallowed by ink. he runs in a void of darkness which transforms into many layers. He keeps on running back and forth and back and forth. Soon it is revealed that these layers are from inside his mind. The original city and bedroom reappear and the boy is sitting on his bed looking off in the distance. Suddenly the firefly appears from the window and travels to the light in his room, illuminating the scene. The boy opens the book and begins to read again. This time, not giving up. The end.