As animation technology becomes both better and more accessible, the medium itself will morph, mutate and break down whatever barriers once defined it. Director/animator/composer/editor/producer Scott Bateman has pushed the art form one step further with his mesmerizing pop art motion picture collage 5000 Space Aliens. Imagine if Andy Warhol’s silkscreens came to life and danced before your eyes. Essentially, this is 86 minutes of exactly that.
Five thousand one-second clips, all centered on a human form, join together in a string of motion and color propelled by a driving electronic music score. Faces flash before your eyes, barely registering in your brain before the next image demands attention in an almost subliminal fashion. This isn’t Pixar or cute singing animals. This is an emotional rainbow brought to life as something new and exciting — the way of the future.
“Five thousand one-second clips, all centered on a human form…”
Now the lack of a narrative structure for nearly an hour and a half may seem off-putting to the public at large, but remember, this is only the beginning. Now that we know that this style can be done well and, most importantly, that it works, the next challenge will be to see how it can be applied to tell a story. Admittedly, in this current incarnation, it doesn’t seem meant to be consumed in a theater as the focus of attention. Rather, 5000 Space Aliens would work well as visuals in a cyberpunk bar or a gallery opening, where it can play continuously in a loop so that it can be focused on briefly before one move’s on to the next thing.
As it stands, Bateman’s booming soundtrack is the thread holding everything together. Pulsing electronic arpeggios waft over loud, powerful beats, betraying an interest in the whole of electronic music instead of just one style. Shades of synthpop, industrial music, EDM, IDM, krautrock, synthpunk, and trip-hop can all be heard in the movements of this oscillator-driven symphony. Apparently, the filmmaker created the entire score in GarageBand, and this is the film’s only fault. Some actual hardware would have added tones and textures that you just can’t get with a digital audio workstation. There are also parts where the drums unnecessarily get in the way of the synth sounds emanating from the speakers. But, you know, COVID and money, so it’s understandable and, hey, it’s punk rock to use what’s around you rather than dump cash on new gear.
Scott Bateman has truly done something wonderful and exciting, and now it’s up to the animators and artists out there to take it as far as it will go. Collaborations between musicians, filmmakers, photographers, actors, and every other kind of artist are ripe for this groundbreaking style. Thanks to 5000 Space Aliens, the future has landed, and a whole new frontier stands before us.
"…imagine if Andy Warhol's silkscreens came to life and danced before your eyes."