Tess Martin

audiovisueel - experimenteel - film - installatie - cross-over

Tess Martin is an artist/filmmaker based in Rotterdam. Her work is informed by hand-made animation techniques and their potential to explore the human condition. Persistent themes are our place in nature, our relationship to the past, and how memory and perception inform identity. Her practice results in short films, videos, interactive installations, and paintings/prints.

Her prize-winning films and installations have been exhibited at international galleries and festivals such as TOKAS Hongo (JP), IFFR (NL), Ann Arbor Film Festival (USA), and more. She was selected as an artist-in-residence at, among others, the Camargo Foundation (France, 2019), the Bogliasco Foundation (Italy, 2017), Djerassi Resident Artist Program (USA, 2016). She has been funded by the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, the CBK, Stichting Droom en Daad, Amartefonds, the city of Rotterdam, and the Dutch Film Fund. Tess holds an MA in Animation from AKV St Joost (2014) and a BA in Fine Art Sculpture from the University of Brighton, UK (2007).


ORBIT installation, 2020, projected film, discs on turntables, cellphones, 10 looping videos on a monitor and assorted mono prints - This exhibition at the Tokyo Arts and Space Hongo Gallery, from Jan 11 to Feb 09, 2020 consisted of the ORBIT short film, the interactive installation, the monoprint series and monoprint videos - the first time all 4 components were presented together. ORBIT is a project that uses spinning drawings to guide the viewer along the flow of energy through our planet. The looped movements mirror the looping of our planet around the sun, the source of all life, leading us to ponder our place in the natural cycle. Various iterations of the interactive installation and prints were also presented at TAFF in Turku, Finland and as part of the Out of Frame, Out of Mind, Out of Order, Out of Paper group show at WORM in Rotterdam. The installation and prints were supported by the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, and developed at the Kala Art Institute artist residency in Berkeley, CA. Four of the prints & related videos are in the collection of the Kala Art Institute Gallery.
ORBIT, 2019, 6’49’’, HD video - This experimental film uses spinning drawings to guide the viewer along the flow of energy through our planet. The looped movements mirror the looping of our planet around the sun, the source of all life, leading us to ponder our place in the natural cycle. The film is created in the phonotrope technique. It premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and won the Shortcutz Amsterdam Best Experimental Film award. It has additionally screened at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Zinebi Bilbao, Theater Rotterdam, and many others, and was supported by the Centrum door Beeldende Kunst, Gemeente Rotterdam, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie and the Netherlands Film Fund. The project was initially developed at the I-Park Artist Residency in CT and the Djerassi Artist Residency in CA, USA.
Times Waves, 2019, projected loop (charcoal), framed photo & text, sound machine. - In collaboration with Stella Koppe, presented at WORM, Rotterdam, December 2019. This piece connects two sides of the North Sea and two time periods: a charcoal animated loop of waves washing on the shore of Fraserburgh, a small town in Scotland, from which Tess’ ancestors fished for centuries, and Hoek van Holland in the modern day, where Stella collected debris and sand to give sound to the waves through a kinetic sculpture. In this way, the sea has become a time traveling device - to connect past and present, coast to coast, water and dust.
Times Waves, 2019, projected loop (charcoal), framed photo & text, sound machine - In collaboration with Stella Koppe, presented at WORM, Rotterdam, December 2019. This piece connects two sides of the North Sea and two time periods: a charcoal animated loop of waves washing on the shore of Fraserburgh, a small town in Scotland, from which Tess’ ancestors fished for centuries, and Hoek van Holland in the modern day, where Stella collected debris and sand to give sound to the waves through a kinetic sculpture. In this way, the sea has become a time traveling device - to connect past and present, coast to coast, water and dust.
Ginevra, 2017, 3’42’’, HD video (paper cut-out) - Still image - This experimental animation film is based on an unfinished a poem by Percy Shelley, which in turn was based on the Florentine legend of Ginevra degli Almieri. It posits an alternate version of Ginevra who undergoes a resurrection after being murdered by her husband. The poignant funeral dirge, narrated in the film by Ginevra’s mother, also points to Percy Shelley himself, whose own untimely demise at sea at the age of 29 is the reason the poem remained unfinished. The film, carefully crafted from paper, was made in collaboration with producer Max Rothman, who paired together filmmakers and musicians for this project. Ginevra premiered at the Bellevue Arts Museum in WA, USA alongside sets and puppets used in its creation, and has screened at venues world wide.
Ginevra, 2017, 3’42’’, HD video (paper cut-out) - This experimental animation film is based on an unfinished a poem by Percy Shelley, which in turn was based on the Florentine legend of Ginevra degli Almieri. It posits an alternate version of Ginevra who undergoes a resurrection after being murdered by her husband. The poignant funeral dirge, narrated in the film by Ginevra’s mother, also points to Percy Shelley himself, whose own untimely demise at sea at the age of 29 is the reason the poem remained unfinished. The film, carefully crafted from paper, was made in collaboration with producer Max Rothman, who paired together filmmakers and musicians for this project. Ginevra premiered at the Bellevue Arts Museum in WA, USA alongside sets and puppets used in its creation, and has screened at venues world wide.
The Lost Mariner, 2014, 5’45’’, HD video (photo cut-out) - Jimmie G. was a real patient of neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks and his unique condition left him ‘unmoored in time’ (as related in the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat). This experimental film uses photographs to explore how identity is inexorably tied to memory and the perception of ourselves in time. The Lost Mariner has screened at venues worldwide.
Mario, 2014, 2’54’’, HD video (paint) - Playground songs from one’s childhood leave an indelible mark. This song that we chanted haunted me into adulthood, and for good reason. It tells the story of a soldier who returns from war, finds his girlfriend has left him, and decides to kill her. The seriousness of the story is contradicted by the blitheness of our children’s game. Could it have really happened? This experimental animated film pulls the song back into the present moment, using swirling, morphing paint that blurs the line between real and unreal, fact and fiction, playground game and history.
The Whale Story, 2012, 3’36’’, HD video (mural, intervention) - Behind the scenes documentation. Our human experience is filled with well-told stories of potential, possible, connection with animals. One such story is that of a fisherman, who helped to free a female humpback whale from fishing nets off the coast of San Francisco, and seems to receive a look of thanks from her in return. These stories are repeated over and over to the point of becoming legends, because we will never know for sure. The mystery is what drives the yearning. This experimental film takes on this story by ‘performing’ it in a public park, on a large wall, and inviting the passing community to retell the story in their own words. This project was supported by the 4Culture organization in Seattle, USA, and has screened in venues around the world.
The Whale Story, 2012, 3’36’’, HD video (mural animation, performance/intervention) - Our human experience is filled with well-told stories of potential, possible, connection with animals. One such story is that of a fisherman, who helped to free a female humpback whale from fishing nets off the coast of San Francisco, and seems to receive a look of thanks from her in return. These stories are repeated over and over to the point of becoming legends, because we will never know for sure. The mystery is what drives the yearning. This experimental film takes on this story by ‘performing’ it in a public park, on a large wall, and inviting the passing community to retell the story in their own words. This project was supported by the 4Culture organization in Seattle, USA, and has screened in venues around the world.