For this blog I’d like to focus on an incredibly talented and relatively unknown artist, photographer, filmmaker named Tobias Stretch. Originally from northern PA, Stretch now lives in Philadelphia. I am unsure as to what his job is now, but he is not making money from his art work/films, as far as I can tell. I consulted multiple sources to find out more about his background but found very little. His art work over all reflects on his childhood. According to an interview with file magazine.com, he tries to create an Idealized and altered version of his childhood memories. Restless parts of his mind in regards to his childhood are manifested in surreal looking creature puppets that he makes. These puppets, or characters in his short music videos, “run amok and misbehave” like he and his brothers used to when they were younger (http://file-magazine.com/features/tobias-stretch). Some of the puppets you may see in his videos are not his though. Apparently Stretch will some times find abandoned puppets in the streets and take them back to his house, and ultimately incorporate them into his work. Stretch is now working on a surrealist stop motion fantasy/adventure film using large scale puppets called “Flabbergastaland.”
His stop motion music video for the song Weird Fishes/Arpeggi by Radiohead caught my eye some time ago. The website Aniboom, which features a multitude of amateur animators, had a music video contest in 2008 based on the Radiohead album In Rainbows. Aniboom and Radiohead both judged the contest and deemed Stretch and two other artists the winners. Despite winning, Radiohead has yet to contact Stretch about making potential music video’s for them in the future.
The music video itself is fascinating. Stop motion animation takes an incredibly long time and effort, and it really shows in this video. Most of the video is shot using a wide angle lens, which incorporates more of the landscape and distorts the faces of his characters when he uses close ups of them. The video includes at least five of his grotesque looking puppets, all moving about rapidly to the fast paced music. I’ve watched this video a few times and have tried to piece together a story, but have yet to actually come up with one. I am assuming the song lyrics are telling the story, but the only correlations I have found are when Thom sings “your eyes, they turn me,” and Stretch cuts to a close up of a puppets eyes turning, and how they would follow them to the bottom of the sea (or in this case a pond or lake in the video). Nonetheless, the video is very impressive, with great camera work, unique puppet creations, and use of nature.