Pagan Folklore & Architecture (Animation)

Branching off the idea of objects providing information, Pagan Folklore & Architecture creates a woven connection of a lost and revived culture by intermingling forms and relying on color to guide viewer connection of architectural form over time. The concept is to create an understanding of time and culture pertaining to Eastern Europe through environment-reliant storytelling. During the development, I learned how to synthesize text and photographs to create speculative connections based on visual attributes and lost histories. This project also allowed me to consider more abstracted and non-linear forms of storytelling.

Project Background…

Every culture has a story to tell. Often times, it is done through words passed on from the lips of our ancestors until it reaches our ears in the stories we hear today. Architecture is one of the greatest storytellers. Through its varied surfaces warn by time, weather, and the actions of man, it continues to stand strong as a mirror to the world around it. Like the campfire words that may become muddled over time, the stories told through architecture might also change and become lost in man’s progression. Pagan architecture exemplifies the idea of architecture as a great storyteller for the way it has risen, fallen, and risen again.

Based on beautiful and often scary folklores, Paganism forms draw from its unique links between the natural world and the manmade one. As a result, beautiful wooden temples adorned by tribal and spiritual symbols speak to the power of a higher being. However, with the rise of Christianity and its brutal conquest, many of these forms were hidden and built over by elaborate churches, which meant having to rely on speculative drawings or word-of-mouth to understand Pagan structures. Fortunately, many of today’s Eastern European countries, like Lithuania and Russia, push towards the progression of the revival of the Pagan faith, specifically in the groups the Romuva and Rodnovery.

With a lot of lost histories, I draw connections and understanding through the symbolism, stories, and traditions behind Paganism. For this project, I cross-examined the structures of the Temple of a Slavic God, the Slavic Kremlin Vitaly Sundakov, and the Pyramid of Merkine. One a traditional Pagan structure, one a modern Pagan structure, and a third a Christian structure that I argue draws from Pagan roots based on the materials and its relationship to the outside world.

Developing Pagan Folklore & Architecture…

Here are some of the early stages of the models. The first one is based off the Slavic Kremlin Vitaly Sundakov, ad the second one is based off of the Temple of a Slavic God. For these, I really wanted to understand the structures and get down to the details. When put side by side, it helped to establish size and compared shapes. The third image was before I had built a model of the Pyramid of Merkine.

Eventually, I started to add cameras to move through the space. The lighting was not finalized yet as I was not sure how best to represent that at the moment. With this first test animation, I realized I did not like the perspective or starting from the bottom and wanted more focus on the cross as this structure was the only Christian structure.

With the following two test animations, I realized I was not seeing enough of the structure. I decided that I wanted more close-ups on the totems that would later be built.

Final Project…

As the animation begins, large objects of veneration slide across the screen leaving room for the next to enter. Through ghost-like movements, the idea of a shifting time and space is implied. Starting with totems, these forms all have a bulky and unique detailing that draws them together. From the final totem, elaborate and imperfect models of architecture rise up, one after the other. There is no particular order in the six sequences as they are meant to blur together into one Pagan form instead of three unique structures of varying time and ideas.Eventually, after capturing the essence of the three forms, they come together in one final scene to see progression. A lack of environment isolates the forms and obscures their locations, and the only thing viewers have to give a sense of space is an acknowledgment of day told through the ways of light and shadow. As the camera pans to reveal all three forms, colors come to life and change in rapid succession. Through these subtle links, connections are drawn between the passing of time and structures. Eventually, with all in view, a changing of light symbolizes both the passing of time, a greater being, and an emphasis on the natural world in opposition to the constructed.

Questions Raised…

  1. How to direct attention when a character/text/narrator is not present?
  2. How to create connections between different forms?
  3. What is necessary when working with cultural histories that are very hidden and lost?