Bill Domonkos is a filmmaker, artist, and animator like no other. Recently, he's crafted a collection of striking, humorous, and occasionally disturbing GIFs, the hallmark of which is the juxtaposition of old and new. Domonkos is one of a number of artists that appropriates public domain archival footage, recutting and subverting it to tell new stories. We had the opportunity to talk with Domonkos to discuss his influences, his methods, and the unending inspirational draw of archival footage.
Citing the work of pioneering artists like Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, and Max Ernst as a big inspiration, Domonkos' fresh take on the Assemblage movement is a joy to behold. "I love movies," he tells The Verge, "especially early avant-garde experimental cinema ... All of the imagery and film footage I use was created before I was born. It's like being a time traveler of sorts; altering the past with the present."
"My process unfolds gradually and spontaneously, using found materials such as archive film footage and photographs. I experiment by combining, altering, editing, and reassembling using special effects and animation to create a new kind of experience."
"Sometimes I have a preconceived idea of what I want to communicate and search for the media to support it. Sometimes the idea comes from a video clip or photo I come across. Some ideas work, some don't."
"I would say that most of the time the source material works as a springboard towards something new and unexpected. I have no problems finding inspiration, my only fear is not having enough time to make all the stuff I have in my head."
"I attempt to create images that move me in some way, either by the pure, abstract beauty of the motion or by the juxtapositions of the imagery. I hope that the audience will have a similar experience."
The GIF is a relatively new artistic format, but Domonkos sees huge parallels between the medium and experimental cinema. "An animated GIF is a loop and artists have been experimenting with film loops since the birth of cinema ... I use loops in my films to extend or alter time and I look at the GIFs as being an extension of [my video] work."
"An animated GIF is time, not only repetition but also a continuation of what would otherwise be a very short film. So the basic idea of an animated GIF or video loop has always been present in my work."
"They are more like ambient, frozen moments in time, no beginning and no end, opposed to the more narrative structure of my films. They are completely different animals, although the overall themes and technique are very similar."
"One extraordinary thing about the moving image is its ability to suggest the ineffable. It is this elusive, dreamlike quality that that I find so attractive, this sense of suspended time, like a memory."