Roots: An Experiment
in Images and Music

by Bärbel Neubauer

Download a Quicktime movie of Roots by Bärbel Neubauer. 832 K.
© Bärbel Neubauer.

Roots. © Bärbel Neubauer.


Editor's Note: Roots is a metamorphoses of color and form which is painted, drawn and stamped directly on blank film and corresponds to rhythm and music. The main symbols of the film are the sun and sun wheels. The film has been included in numerous festivals and won "Best Abstract Film" at Zagreb in 1996. Bärbel Neubauer now describes her creative process when producing her animated works of art.

"For the jury this is a universal work of art. If you go with the music, the images also work. The film is a very free improvisation of image and music. It causes associations and has the ideal length. What was first: the music or the film? It is good to hear, that both developed in parallel." - Filmbewertungsstelle Wiesbaden, 1996

Tools and Preparing
Roots is just one of my films that I create by painting and stamping ink directly on blank film. For Roots, I used photo-retouching colors, black ink, and OH pen markers, as well as tiny stencils with stamp color, which I make myself from rubber.

When I started to make this film, I had some of the main images in my mind. I started by painting without having a concrete plan. I had composed some elements of the music on the computer so there was a rough structure. From there, both music and images were then developed in unison.

Roots. © Bärbel Neubauer. Roots. © Bärbel Neubauer.


The Production
Using this technique of painting on blank film I can work as I go along: every image leads to the next, every sequence to the next. The colors and forms go to the sound; the music to the images. If I have enough time to work constantly on a film, it will take about three to four months to paint a four-minute film. So, if it is an abstract film, there is enough time to concentrate, in a meditative way, on the subject, feelings and associations.

It is always an experiment, because during this time I realize what I am looking for. There exists no repetition of another film. The experiment takes place with the material and the movement. Images and colors are the same as numbers and keys of music. Because of this connection between images and music, I have truly enjoyed the technique of making hand-crafted films over the last few years. Knowing much more about film than music in 1990, the images helped me to learn about the sounds.
Roots. © Bärbel Neubauer.


My Meaning
While painting Roots I concentrated on the sun. I chose the title because the sun is the root of life, movement and vitality. Also the graphic look of the word - the two "o's" being two suns - fitted into my associations. Most of the film is designed in bright and warm colors, like daylight. At the beginning of the last third, however, there is a (soft) break, and darker passages introduce the final sequence of metamorphoses. I painted the film as it developed. There are no cuts, and every image is used only one time.

Bärbel Neubauer is an independent filmmaker based in München, Germany.

Visit the AWN Vault for distribution information on Roots and Bärbel Neubauer's complete filmography.

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