Anton Octavian
animator / illustrator
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The Absence of Man Within Man (2010) 
By Mark Stöhr

"A dope-smoking ant – there's an original idea for you. It's from an animated video clip called The Fog, which Octavian directed in 2008 for an Italian band with the rather absurd moniker „The mantra Above the spotless Melt Moon“. The clip shows the vision of a totalitarian nightmare: Legions of ants build a tower by hacking and marching in cadence, and when it's finished and looming into the sky it resembles a rocket launch pad. Their bodies' movements feel like the monotonous nodding of oil pumps, while a female voice sings the lyrics „We have no escape“ in the background. Is there really no escape? Yes, there is. The glowing flake of a joint sets the monstrous construction ablaze, until it collapses in on itself. From the ruins sprout roots and tree-branches – nature is back.

The animation work of this only 23-year-old Romanian often stresses the tension between nature and technology, man and machine. Giorgio de Chirico, the Greek mentor of Surrealism, once paraphrased his art as “the absence of man within man”. This sentence could also apply to Octavian's body of work. He constructs an alienated world, in which objects develop a live of their own and threaten to defy their masters' control. He is adopting an explicitly surrealist imagery that doesn't care about logic or proportions, being rooted more within the realms of dreams and the unconscious. His fantasy seems boundless, swinging itself through the thickest forest of association. If drugged ants could dream, it would look like a film by Anton Octavian.

And so his new story My Friend Is A Cloud is another meandering imagination contrary to any rule of reason. A young boy, a package of clouds, a dystopic future scenario. The enslaved ants here are nothing but synchronised robots being controlled by a mysterious force. The boy acts as a representative of humanity bringing music into this soulless machine world. What a wonderfully poetic invention: The little tiddler on a stage as a pianist, the concert hall a sterile space station full of surveillance cameras, the audience twinkling automata. But as soon as the music sounds, they all start to move to the melody, dancing a waltz with each other. Art and childhood are the sanctuaries of self-determination and freedom – Anton Octavian is a master of one and has remained securely rooted in the other one."

original link: labkultur.tv
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Saturday Morning Cartoons: “Runaway” and “My Friend is a Cloud”
by Irene Gallo

"My Friend is a Cloud: A sweet and lonely dreamscape of pianos, puppies, and robots on a floating city."

original link: tor.com
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My Friend Is A Cloud
by Ian Lumsden

"I certainly do not understand all the animated shorts I write about. I misunderstand as much as I understand. I seemingly misunderstood My Friend Is A Cloud from Romanian director Anton Octavian. This is what I thought at first....... High above a floating city an aeroplane drops a parcel for a young musician. It contains a puppy who becomes a companion. In a city devoid of humans the pianist performs for an auditorium of robots. Time passes and the boy meets a fellow human being allowing him to parcel up his past and move on. The film is a statement of loneliness and the need for relationships. Well that's what I thought. I was assisted in this view by the melancholic, haunting music of Brandon Visel, the prevalence of surveillance cameras in a city and a definite coldness of atmosphere. I was not sure though and sought the explanation of Anton himself. "My Friend Is A Cloud is a film about childhood, dreams and music. I built the script of this film from my own experiences. I say this because I have been drawing since I was 4 years and am still drawing. In My friend Is A Cloud the little boy dreams, imagines the future that he would like to have in the future. Dreams that will become a famous pianist among robots on an floating island created in his imagination. The film is divided into 3 phases. The first stage is where he discovers music and friendship, the second is the passage of time where the little boy is more mature, more responsible, it becomes more serious and sad. And finally the third stage is that of awakening from the dream, waking up to reality. In this film I wanted to use the concept that... what we do when we are young, those things will influence our future." Made with Anime Studio and Photoshop, the atmospheric piece is clearly drawn, has delicious colouring and a textured finish. And, yes, of course, I can see how the explanation fits. The boy was waving to himself. But, you know, somehow it still seems first and foremost to be about friendship and loneliness. I misunderstood all of Shakespeare's plays or that's what my students used to tell me when I taught English Literature. They were wrong."

original link: animationblog.org
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The Fog
by Ian Lumsden

"The Fog is an engaging music video for The Mantra ATSMM in which ants toil to construct a large tower using an assortment of equipment, from pick axe to mechanised transport. Man, naturally enough, puts his foot on it. It also happens to be the first Romanian animation I have featured here on the AnimationBlog. As yesterday the work is in grey scale and at over five and half minutes is longer than the usual music video. This requires some reuse of material, the ant being replicated many times (no problem as I’ve never yet identified an individual ant!) with the layering coarsely, if deliberately, achieved.The Fog is not some slickly rendered piece though that is not the intention. As the whirlwind construction gathers ever more pace, blocks moving from ant hand to ant hand, the intricacy of the tower is revealed as a complex, lattice like framework. The movie has a definite charm in line with the music. I was left to puzzle out what was computer animated, how much digital or actual cutout, what was the significance of the fog. Anton Octavian has a variety of work available on his website and blog ranging from live action to stop motion, all rather innovative and including sculptures. I also liked Falling Down, so to speak."

original link: animationblog.org
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