I believe some people live with their inner child right beside them. Every morning, they wake up together; they have breakfast together and spend all day together. The child is the one leading the way, while the adult part of this human being and the world outside do the rest. Santiago Idelson is one of these people.
What did you want to be as a child?
I wanted to be a fireman or an ice-cream bicycle salesman. I was very curious as a child. I loved music, toys, computers and I made horror short films with my friends. My work right now is a mixture of everything I love. What I do is very similar to what I had in mind as a child.
From dancing dominos, three-dimensional flowers, a family of scientists who always fail, schizophrenic toys, a bowl of letters and hearts made of candy, we notice that Santiago is a machine of ideas. One body, heart and mind dedicated to produce and process all kinds of ideas, 24 hours a day.
When asked about his profession, he considers himself a director of audiovisual pieces. “I like to film, I like to draw, and I like to direct the different aspect of a motion graphics piece or an actor’s short film. I work with a certain aesthetics which makes me who I am and goes beyond the format I choose to show it”, reveals Santiago.
“I studied drama, music, television and I worked in television design. I’ve always been inspired by movies and music. I find things in them that move me as a spectator, and I also relate to them as being a part of what I want to say”, he tells me.
In the last 5 years I created Pattern, a Studio specialized in motion graphics and film, which also produced a line of design toys. I was the director and could also combine activities that were independent before”, he adds.
What do you enjoy about your work?
What I enjoy the most is to see myself through my work. I love working in an audiovisual piece from the beginning to the end. One nice example of this is Scientifik Familie, a short film where a family of researchers explore the boundaries of modern knowledge. This piece ended up as a very close aesthetic approach to what I had originally in mind. I listened to songs that brought some images, there was a casting, we created a whole universe of a European family of scientists, a mix among warm and sordid environment, somewhat hermetic, beyond understanding. It's a very visual experience. Each element converges at a certain point, giving birth to a universe with its own rules. That is very exciting for me, like an orchestra with every instrument sounding like they’re supposed to.
So this piece is your favourite, right?
I like it very much. But what I really like is the novelty of things. When I decode something that's inside of me into a film or a drawing, I feel like giving birth to a child. It isn't something intellectual. When the work is personal, the origin is primitive, playful, and unconscious. It’s like a volcano of ideas that lie inside of me.
So, what are the topics that move your works?
I’m attracted by the first half of 20th century in Europe, the industrial age with strange machines, the immaculate environment of classic Hollywood movies, construction and deconstruction structures. I work with the idea of the failure of a scientific process cohabiting with chaos and the unpredictable. We can see this in Flower Maschine, where there’s an unclear limit between a structural growing and an organic machine, or the plush toys: scientists whose experiments fail. There’s always an apparent order surpassed by an emotional unpredictable chaos. Maybe it’s my own search for understanding life. Life if something so large, something with its own rules. The biggest attempts to control everything are the ones that fall more spectacularly.
What happens with the clip Tomatin?
When we travel through Santiago’s works, we always find motion, sometimes it's a party and sometimes it's a revolution. Somehow his characters move in a collective world, and they always want to change the world, or themselves.
One example of this is Acrovatika, Santiago's first animated short film. This film was entirely produced by him, from the original idea of an acrobatic squad of dominos that party in town, to the realization of this short.
Another party story is Viktor goes disco. This toy has a monster living inside of him who rebuilds his guts, so Viktor turns into a party animal. From now on, his days are surrounded by colourful lights, people and loud dance music.
Tell me the story of these toys.
The first image of Pattern was a group of scientists that failed their experiments. It all started with Viktor, the exhibitionist scientist. The other two characters are Hector and I’m with Evil, who envies Viktor. These bipartite creatures end up completely merging with the being they’re investigating. I wanted to produce designer toys that look like vinyl toys, and people really loved them, we had great feedback.
Which are the highest points in your career?
My first work after college was Digital Conspiracy, a science TV show. I financed, wrote, designed and directed this project. We won two awards with it; I felt I was on the right track because those repercussions helped me find my own way.
Another big moment was working on the short film Flower Maschine, a story of an underground a half organic / half mechanical machine. I got inspiration from a sculpture I saw at the Centre Pompidou, in Paris. This short film is interesting because it goes from a two dimension animation to three dimensions. Flower Maschine was very successful around the world; it was published in Stash and Boards magazines. We showed it in Promax & BDA 2007, State of Design, New York NY, USA, Lumen Eclipse Gallery, Cambridge MA, USA and Huesca Film Festival 07, Barcelona, Spain and Onedotzero 07, Wow+Flutter, London, UK.
What would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?
I’d love to make a long movie. And also some series of short films with a theme. My projects for this year involve a trip, where I’d like spread my work around the world.
He smiles as if he was holding a huge colourful candy in his hands.
Or maybe it’s a little prince waiting to start a huge battle against pink robots or a flower waiting to be picked from the ground.
All of them are having a party inside of him. They only keep quiet at night time, when Santiago and his inner child go to bed, close the door and wave goodnight.
Just for the dream machine to begin.
Text: Gisella Lifchitz
Photos: Natalia Rolon Sotelo