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Priit Pärn, Hotel E and The “Frontier” Romantic Universe of Surface Noise

August 23rd will see the premiere of an animated music video for Devin Greenwood’s new song Surface Noise at the Turku Animated Film Festival in Turku, Finland. Greenwood approached the legendary Estonian cartoonist and animation director Priit Pärn with a new cut of Hotel E— Pärn’s colorful, classic short on post-Soviet Estonian identity and western malaise— and received his unexpected and enthusiastic support. Pärn later requested the video be included in RETROSPECTIVE: PRIIT & OLGA PÃRN, a tribute to his work and that of his wife, director and animator Olga Pärn.

Not unlike Hotel E itself, Surface Noise deals with shifting and uncertain notions of identity, but focuses these crises under the magnifying lens of romantic love, using Pärn’s depiction of cultural shock and self-awareness after perestroika to examine the intersection of ownership, sex and territorial claims. Inscription, branding, cultural signs and codes are all employed to convey both boundary assertions and class-status, while both the male and female principle appears in ever-shifting settings, suggesting the sense of fluidity that characterizes an increasing number of interracial, international and non-binary relationships in our new “frontier” romantic universe.

An inherently remote form of story telling, animation has long interested Greenwood as a way of exploring connection-at-a-distance. He sees in the medium a representation of all the ways human beings substitute what is possible for what is necessary in love, often discarding a range of detail for the essential and iconic. Like mythology, animation distills what is available, in the face of an array of obstacles to a more direct approach. In response to a child’s inexhaustible need for attention, a parent substitutes sign and ritual but imbues those efforts with the essential meaning which is a parent’s possible love. As such, the reduced animated image becomes that essential meaning while the discarded detail— inexhaustible attention— becomes the surface noise, a perpetually intangible possibility.

In this, the first in a series of collaborations with animators and studios around the world, Greenwood seeks to establish a benchmark for the relationship between music and image, and continues to examine the ways in which we try and provide what is possible when the means to what is necessary may be absent. Surface Noise will be released world-wide later in the year.

Devin Greenwood lives in Brooklyn, NY and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Priit and Olga Pärn live in Tallinn, Estonia and Eesti Joonisfilm OÜ is their animation studio. The Turku Animated Film Festival takes place from August 23 - August 27, 2017 in Turku, Finland.

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