Sunday, 4 March 2012

Interview with Vito Cannella - winner of the Golding Animation Competition

Vito Cannella was recently awarded first prize in the William Golding animation competition. Below Vito tells us about his video.

Vito Cannella
What is your background in digital media?

I have worked professionally as a New York City based freelance MultiMedia Artist since 1983, when I received a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and intermittently with film/video as a personal interest, most recently focusing on moving images through Digital Media. I have a special Interest in Paleoanthropology and the Art/Science of Forensic Reconstruction based on fossil human remains, which I learned while employed for a time at The American Museum of Natural History.

What inspired you to base your video on The Inheritors?  Had you read the book prior to the competition?
 As I am intensely fascinated by the notion that dramatically different types of humans coexisted in the distant past, I was thrilled to discover a book on that subject by the author of "The Lord of the Flies" (perhaps, my favorite novel until then). I began reading it with rare anticipation and sadly, far too soon it seemed, I had turned the last page of my new favorite novel - "The Inheritors". Considering the rich dramatic potential, I eagerly embraced the opportunity to recount a small part of so great a tale. Hence, the resulting video.

Tell us about your video.
Based on the theme of the book, my video examines the compelling scenario in which gentle Neanderthals are confronted and displaced by hostile anatomically modern humans. Narrated extracts and scenes from the novel are presented along with associated visual images and contrasting Biblical references, including "Adam and Eve" (represented as Homo Erectus figures), that highlight contradictions between a belief system and attitude prevalent in modern western thought and a conjectural prehistoric culture and mythos attributed to the extinct humans portrayed in the story. The Idea of the patriarch God is contrasted with that of the matriarch Goddess, represented in the book by a small found wooden figure carried by "The People", as the characters refer to themselves, that resembles a female form, and in the video by a familiar icon of primitive Art; the archeological artifact known as the Venus of Wilendorf.

Apparently, the book title was inspired by the famous passage in the New Testament; "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth", which I cited toward the end of the video. Upon consulting my Bible, I noticed the preceding verse, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" and I was struck In that context, by the irony of the fact that evidently, the Neanderthals, who are the first Humans generally believed to have had the compassion to bury their dead, have disappeared beneath the proverbial sands of time, or at best, have been absorbed into the gene pool of the flood of evolutionary competition that overwhelmed them. This brought to mind simultaneously, the burial scene in "The Inheritors", and a group of sculptural figures that I had created some years ago depicting a Neanderthal burial site  (Shanidar Cave in Iraq) pictured in the video. Then, those figures reconstructed from long dead fossil bones came to life for me, imbued with the personalities of William Golding's characters, and I had a starting premise, or rather, a direction for an ending for my video. The beginning was provided by the words of the ancient patriarch Moses, that most ancient of patriarchs, Mal (a character in the book), the modern patriarch and Nobel Laureate, Sir William Gerald Golding, and the matriarch of his imagination; "The Great Oa".

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