Episode 22 – Walter Smits – Director and Animator
Walter Smits is a multimedia visual artist focusing on abstract video. His lens is youthful and curious, broken down into absurd collages of spontaneous language and fragmented imagery. His work critiques filmmaking structures and examines the intangibility of memory, childhood, and sexuality. Transcending these constructs via playful curiosity allows him to provide an earnest and heartfelt analysis of the ephemeral.
I often use puppets and toys to invite simplicity and playfulness into darker and more complex themes. Puppets act as human-shaped voids to get lost in. Toys fill the empty spaces of videos, acting as forlorn talismans of a forgotten time. The weight of the world is held up on the shoulders of childhood.
Smits’ recent work focuses on feature films. He’s interested in challenging what it means to make a 70-minute movie. It is a performance about filmmaking and time that does not care for a coherent narrative. The process is a rejection of Hollywood’s capitalist intentions while still adhering to the production rules as taught by creative institutions.
“I’ve been inspired largely by artists who invoke the feeling of “play” in their work. By my own definition, play is the act of giving into impulse with exaggerated mindfulness. Having a non-restricting goal in mind that finds its meaning as it unfolds. Play also calls back to being a kid, it invokes spontaneity but also delivers something that feels carefree and fun. Artists like Jodie Mack, Ryan Trecartin, and Sara Cwynar have all influenced me in this way.
Roland Barthes says that, “All the toys one commonly sees are essentially a microcosm of the adult world… Toys reveal the list of all the things the adult does not find unusual.” I consider my work in a similar way; I see an absurdity to the world around me… work, love, sex, language, etc. I simplify them as one does life into a toy. Except, I’m not creating for children, I’m creating for myself as means of mental digestion.”