Lincoln Center/White Light Festival artist note...

Artist's Note: Miwa Matreyek

MIWA MATREYEK      October 12th, 2016


“This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, because these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings.”—Joanna Macy

Even though I come from a background in animation and collage, the inception of the surreal and dreamlike worlds I create are imagined through my body. There was always something I was searching for internally and physically, rather than just visually.

I often incorporate my body—as a rotoscoped hand, an eye, or as a full figure—into my animated short films: my hands as machinery in a factory, a large eye looking to the stars as part of a radio telescope dish, my lips folding space to kiss the surface of the moon. My inspiration comes from asking myself: How does my body feel to imagine and embody the physicality and perspective of something outside of myself, both animate and inanimate? It’s a natural progression that I now insert myself into the space of projected animation as a live performer, repeating these gestures and re-living these questions for each audience.

Sketch by Miwa Matreyek

With This World Made Itself, I emotionally and physically investigate the geological history of the Earth. The inspiration for This World Made Itself came from all of the flying I was doing on tour. I became obsessed with taking aerial photos, and really trying to read the landscapes. Fault lines, water drainage patterns and dry river beds, sand dunes pushed up against a mountain range, land sliced down by rivers. What did these landscapes look like millions of years ago, and what will they look like millions of years from now? Also, I was seeing human effects layered onto these landscapes—not only cities, but also open pit mines, fracking patterns in forests and on desert surfaces, grids and circles of agriculture, bald mountains. These looked like wounds and grafted skin. I wanted to lean in on the sensation I felt in my body when I saw the Earth from above.

Joanna Macy’s writing talks about the “‘Greening of the Self’—about the process of replacing one’s ‘skin-encapsulated ego’… by wider constructs of identity and self-interest—by what you might call the ecological self, co-extensive with other beings and the life of our planet.” This is about feeling and experiencing the larger world as part of one’s body. Macy’s writing is a recent personal discovery, but there is much that resonates deeply—things I find exciting both personally and as an artist. I can shape-shift and embody various scales of consciousness as a shadow silhouette in the worlds of my animations: the just-forming fiery Earth, life’s first steps out of the ocean, the biosphere’s panic as an asteroid strikes.

Composite of aerial photos taken as part of the artist's research

A year ago, I came across this Neil deGrasse Tyson quote about storytelling:

“In the case of the Artist, I don’t want them to represent reality, because I have that via my own telescope—I want and I need the Artist to take me to new places…the new place Van Gogh took me is not the sky as it is, but the sky as he felt it—and the more of us that feel the universe, the better off we will be in this world.”

This quote gives me courage to push myself as an artist.

Miwa Matreyek is an animator, director, designer, and performer based in Los Angeles. She studied experimental animation and integrated media at California Institute of the Arts, where she earned her master of fine arts degree in 2007.

New Frontier article on MIT Press journal...

also here:

Animated Wonderworlds Catalogue from Museum für Gastaltung Zürich

Last September, I performed in Zurich for the "Animated Wonder Worlds" exhibit curated by Suzanne Buchan at the Museum für Gastaltung. It was a great show, featuring video, interactive installation, games, and VR experiences that explores the boundaries of animation, the new forms it's taken, and the new ways that we experience it. Suzanne was kind enough to give me a copy of the beautiful catalogue, and I was just looking at it again for reference. Thought I'd note it here in the press section :)

CTG's Sherwood Award


Miwa Matreyek was selected as the 2016 Sherwood Award recipient from a competitive group of applicants in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the Los Angeles theatre landscape.

The award was presented at the LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards ceremony on November 9, 2015.

A nice write-up on the Flynn Center Blog

Here is a nice review on the Flynn Center Blog for the show I did there in Burlington, Vermont, as part of my New England tour

When I left the Flynn after attending Miwa Matreyek’s recent performance of her latest solo work, This World Made Itself, I was feeling pretty blown away. I was expecting a show unlike anything that I had ever seen before, and Miwa delivered the most vibrant and stunning series of visualizations I’ve maybe ever seen. Miwa Matreyek’s mind would be a delightful and fantastical place to visit. Watching her made me feel as if she gave the audience a glimpse into her psyche and how it works. This unique showcase is one that I would urge anyone to attend if they have the chance.

a nice review of Half Life on Stage Raw

a great review of Half Life here on Stage Raw

"Cloud Eye Control traffics extensively in both global and internal anxieties, yet its transcendent beauties provided for this viewer an antidote to the ineluctable angst. It’s less a call to arms or commitment to change than an aesthetic alternative to despair, and though it’s only January, I doubt there will be a theatrical mise-en-scene to rival its supple tapestry of stimuli for a while to come." - Myron Meisel, Stage Raw

(many of the photos courtesy of Steve Gunther/Calarts)

Year in review: Flick Picks’ top 14 cinema moments of 2014

11. How Miwa Matreyek melded animation and performance art: A Los Angeles-based multimedia artist, Miwa Matreyek integrates her body and two projectors to create a silhouette that moves not only in front of but among the animated images on the screen. In the performance I saw at REDCAT back in Feburary, her latest piece “This World Made Itself” was paired with “Myth and Infrastructure” from 2010, and the double feature demonstrated her evolution in this very specific form. In the earlier work, her hands interact with animated objects — lighting candles on a birthday cake, slicing open a lemon. In the later one, her hands burst through the screen so that her shadow is operating animated hands held out to the audience. It’s a performance that requires incredible levels of precision and control, and by the time she took her bow, she was glistening from the exertion of the past hour. Meanwhile, Matreyek’s work is non-narrative and surreal, but “This World” conveys a clear message about the creation, evolution and destruction of Mother Earth with a strong feminine voice. The result is mesmerizing — an incredible technological, artistic and philosophical achievement.
— Annlee Ellingson Staff Writer- L.A. Biz

review of UK premiere in Birmingham for Flatpack Film Festival


The Flatpack Film Festival continues to redefine and expand the definition of film, treating audiences to a performance like no other by Los Angeles-based artist Miwa Matreyek.

Performer and digital artist Matreyek combines stunning animation with the art of movement, cleverly using a projection of her silhouette to interact with her creations through a series of interactive manoeuvres. After performing her solo-silhouette show at the prestigious Sundance Festival earlier this year, it appears Matreyek seemingly astounded audiences and critics alike with this masterful production.

‘The World Made Itself’ is a compelling piece, highlighting the serenity and the wonder of Planet Earth in all its splendorous dynamism. In its UK premier, Matreyek’s imaginative offering also features an excerpt from her 2010 project Myth and Infrastructure, a beautifully scenic tale about the cycles of existence and regeneration at the very root of nature and society.

Transiency of time is extremely prevalent within this quirky piece, whilst the emblematic contrast of light and darkness building tension at the peak of the action and serenity in still places.

Matreyek brings her animations to life with charging vivacity with the use of emotive music from distinctive artists including Anna Oxygen, Flying Lotus and some of her own compositions.

The artist’s movements are fairly simple (with no semblance to Cirque de Soleil performances) yet effective. Her graceful movement in the shadows enhance her graphic artistry, both intricate and astounding - a superior model to something that one might attempt at science museum. We are drawn in by the prospect of authority and power to create something distinct and personal. Matreyek ceases her opportunity, using her art as a platform to express her philosophies of humanity, arguably posing as Mother Nature.

With very few artistic pieces to compare with, ‘The World Made Itself’ epitomises modern art. The surreal, sixty-minute montage is free from explanation or any form of legitimacy. The story swings loosely on a short string of trippy and somewhat enigmatic skits. Often, the success of art is measured by the ability to move an audience than their ability to make them understand. On this basis, Matreyek deserves to be celebrated.

Senses of Cinema - a nice write up about my work in an article about Sundance 2014

"This is, perhaps, Matreyek’s greatest gift. While the synchronisation of her performances is obviously worked to the second, she wilfully unsettles our desire for fixed meanings. The relationship between the different layers and the different portions of the spectacle, its “compositing” in time and space, is constantly shifting, gone with the flow of time, tirelessly morphed and reconfigured into the magical kingdom whose key she detains."