The Gatekeeper is a mixed-media project in which a physically build miniature world is combined with digitally added 2D animations and drawings. It tells a story about a dreamer longing for freedom, traveling, discovering and escaping, but is stuck in a community that has lost their lust for life.
When I started working on this project I struggled with lots of fears of the future. With the arrival of Covid I lost the sense of control over my own life. This combined with the loss of someone close to me put me in a mood with big existential questions about the meaning of life.
It raised nostalgic and melancholic feelings in me, which formed the base of my research. These feelings brought me to a couple of beautiful untranslatable words.
SAUDADE is a mix of feelings of loss, missing, distance and love. It is the longing of something or someone you love, but no longer is. Melancholy that is caused by the memory, the pain one feels caused by the absence or disappearance of people, things, situations or actions. The word knows its origin from the Portugese seafarer's mentality. Another word connected to Saudade is homesickness.
WANDERLUST is a strong longing to travel and discover the world. Wanderlust stands for the need to go somewhere else, to leave your own living area and find other things. It is also a sense of curiousness for exotism, something new, discovery, surprises and traveling. It is an aversion from boringness, daily life and routine.
TORSCHLUSSPANIK (door-close-panic) refers to the fear that you're running out of time. It describes the fear as a result of the realization that you haven't done much with your life and now have to act quickly, before you lose more opportunities.
Apart from the visual sources of inspiration as seen above, was Miyazaki's (studio Ghibli) work method also a big inspiration. He starts with drawing and develops his stories around his drawings. The storyboard is still in development during the animation of his movies, so Miyazaki and his animators don't know yet how the story will end while they are already making the film.
Miyazaki likes to incorporate beauty in his films that normally goes unnoticed. He has a keen eye for detail, which makes his worlds come alive in an uncanny way. He puts details into the worlds he creates to supplement the story being told.
'Funiki' is a word well known in the Japanese animation industry, which describes an atmosphere or mood with a strong emotional resonance. It results in deep worlds, with remarkable places that connects a narrative to a larger world.
Below are a couple of my sketches as part of my research to shape the world I wanted to create. The concept was a 'micro nation' coupled to a narrative with the theme of a longing for freedom. In this world the main character is stuck in a community that has lost their lust for life.