Absurd subverted rotoscoped surrealism
Plops is one of those deliciously absurd animations: colorful and poppy on the surface, with deeper, darker layers of meaning hidden underneath. It has the same kind of subverted surrealism that we find in American b-movies, underground pop culture, subversive comics, and in the art of Mike Kelley and Raymond Pettibon, to name but a few. Plops creator and self-proclaimed “nerd hybrid” Pasemko lives and works in Montreal where he creates amazing illustrations and artwork, comics, dense and animated imaginative music videos, and must-see short film Plops.
Image from Darren Pasemko's comic project in progress
Can you tell us something about yourself? What did you study? And where do you live and what's it like there? How old are you (really)?
I think I'm a nerd hybrid, some sort of offshoot of a nerd. It feels like that most
days, and I'm trying to escape it. Then again, I really like nerds, all shapes
and all kinds, but maybe I'd rather be the man in the deodorant commercial. No
that's a lie (that's a childhood image of myself, the man I thought I would
become). Little children have called me Superman. I think it's some sort of
Clark Kent reference. Plus, children are really small, I look huge to them, and
I do wear a lot of blue and red. I like those colors. Actually I'm a primary
I studied painting and then studied animation. I don't like thinking about the confusion
and struggle during some of those years. I mean, for example, the continual
requirement to draw nude people for years on end; it kind of makes you lose
perspective on things. I'm getting old and jaded as the years pass. My friends at school were a blessing (Fluorescent Hill, you know who you are), and I had a select few wonderful teachers that made a mark on me. Shout out to Gerry Hushlak, Bill Laing, Ray Dumas, Roy Cross, Farzine Farzaneh, and Joyce Bernstein. They'll never read this, maybe they will? Maybe they will "Google search" their name, and this
will pop up. Maybe they won't even remember exactly who I am. Funny. They
probably have no idea that they effected change in me, so I should mention
I'm living in Montreal. It's an exuberant and lonely place at the same time (my French is horrible). Keeps life fresh. I love people watching; from the ectomorph kids wearing thuggish Sean Paul gear while strolling through Verdun (my neighborhood), to Hipster Girls ridding bikes on the Eastside… …I could spend my life cataloguing and documenting these things. I don't have time though. I can't get
enough of the old abandoned factories and the canal system of the South West
side (they're my churches), and I'm fascinated by the Mile End combo of Hasidic
Jews, and Art Kids.
I'm 31 years old. Time to do everything before my spirit decides to go surfing without
me. Suddenly this has become more apparent than ever. I gotta kick the nerd
thing in order for this to happen, and I'm having a hard time choosing between
sitting on the computer all day, and actually going surfing while my body still
Plops has this sort of surreal, nightmarish quality. How did you come up with the idea for it?
I was having some heavy-handed thoughts, and they found an outlet through Plops.
Plops came out of analyzing my own, and other people's apathy, specifically in
relation to humanity's ability to accept evil. It also came out of thinking
about the hierarchy of species, and the necessity to kill, and how easy it would
be to die. How simple actions can cause so much destruction. (Whoa). It was post
education brooding on the human condition. I needed to cathart on this
troubling line of thinking, and I love absurdity, so that was the mode I decided to work in. The creative efforts of Bob Sabiston and Richard Linklater in Waking Life, and the short film Snack and Drink by Bob Sabiston definitely affected my thinking at the
It looks great. How did you make it, and what software did you use?
Plops is rotoscoped animation combined with traditional animation. The car and the main character were all rotoscoped from DV source footage. They were brought to life based on a "record of reality," where as the creatures falling from the sky were generated directly from my head. I wanted the creatures to look like little Gods falling to earth. My inspiration was to put the "Waking Life" aesthetic on the same playing field with Hayao Miyazaki's fantasy worlds. I used Toon Boom, Photoshop, and After Effects.
Can you tell us something about your inspirations? What do you watch or read? Checked out your blog and I got the idea that you're really into pop culture phenomena, cult stuff and b-movies.
This question overwhelms me every time. I love pop culture with subversion. I like things that mash two or more concepts together. I want it to reflect something personal and inherent about life. i.e. thoughts that aren't spoken, feelings that can't be described, absurd worlds that can only be understood through art and cinema. Right now I'm reading Tao Lin's "Eeeee Eee Eeee", listening to a Laser Sword mix, and the last thing I enjoyed watching was Daniel Johnston and the Devil (I never saw it until last night.) You could take those three things and obsess about them for the rest of your life, if you had the desire. I'd love to make a faux B-Movie out of those references. It also would involve a 50 ft tall woman, and a crying kitten.
Anything exciting coming up? What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a comic project. I want to collaborate with a list of writers that I love, and I plan to have them write out the speech and thought bubbles for me. Right now, when I write I can't get out of this low brow state of mind. Reading McSweeney's Publishing books, and visiting the Drawn and Quarterly store in Montreal has kept this project alive in my head. I'm attacking a script idea… …the working title is "Brain Squish." Otherwise, I'm writing a treatment for a music video for the band Wood Pigeon. I want to focus on narrative this time around. Shynola's video for Blur, titled "Good Song" has me under mind control, and it has for years.
Buy Darren Pasemko's film poster for Died Young, Stay Pretty - a movie about rock posters