Featured Interview

The Interactive Artist: Interview with Virgilio Villoresi

Virgilio Villoresi is known as the “craftsman of Italian cinema” making films in a dreamy context. Lately, he even featured himself in his latest video .  For an Italian 7-Up commercial he described as ” to be yourself is to let your imagination do the talking for you.”

He was born November 10, 1979 in Fiesole (Florence,Italy). He learned alchemical synthesis from Harry Smith, structural ontology from Jonas Mekas, how to make art of garbage from Jack Smith, ritual magic from Kenneth Anger.

His early inspirations include Poland animator [Jan Lenica, Zbigniew Rybczynski, Walerian Borowczyk, Daniel Schezcura, Jerzy Zitzmann] the European experimental cinema [Patrick Bokanowski, Chris Marker, Straub and Huillet], the American underground [Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Brothers Kuchar], the European avant-garde [Jean Cocteau, Luis Buñuel, Man Ray, Oskar Fischinger] Italian experimental [Paolo Gioli, Alberto Grifi] as well as avant-garde theatre, art and literature.

“I studied watching the movies frame by frame and trying to understand tips and techniques behind them. Once I had learnt those techniques, I started using them and created my own imagery.”

He lives and works in Milan.

I first noticed Virgilio when I discovered his book “Vento”. This is a book illustrations brought to life. The book features the illustrations and drawings of Virginia Mori.

In a style reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s dark illustrations in Victorian settings,the book becomes animated once an optical film is placed over the pages. The technique—which dates back to pre-cinema allows the characters’ shadows to flicker gently, hair to rustle in the wind, and waves to crash gently against a rowboat found within the books’ pages.

Inspired by techniques that date back to the origins of film, this book pays homage to the intimate relation between image and movement. Virgilio Villoresi’s idea for the book was to animate Virginia Mori’s illustrations using a pre-cinema technique.

“Vento” is the outcome of a dialogue between both artists’ imaginations.

The project is the first of a series of animated, interactive books whose pages will unfold through time, giving the reader the possibility to construct and deconstruct the plot.  As each image unveils its own story, the reader is free to imagine what connections may or may not exist between them.

Vento is the first in a series of animated books by Withstand Film that contain minimal plots to encourage readers to weave together their own interactive narrative. (Colossal)

How is life and living in Italy!

Nice weather, good food but we are stuck because of bureaucracy and politics.

How did you begin as an animator and illustrator?

When I was a kid, I was a ballet dancer, then I grew fond of those old magazines from the 50’s that my grandmother used to collect. I would cut the yellowed images off the old pages to make collages. Then I became fond of cinema, which is my real artistic dimension. Drawing is fundamental to me but only during the creative phase. Drawing helps me to define what I imagined.

Apart from this, “les objets trouvés” are the most important thing: found objects that catch my attention from the stands of the many Milan’s suburban markets… Maison Jumeau dolls, 20th century design furniture, pre-cinema devices, Victorian wallpapers, etc.

I put all these elements together and this is when what I imagined becomes reality.

You are a young artist and have accomplished many works. Where did you study your craft and how has your career transitioned in these years?

I studied watching the movies frame by frame and trying to understand tips and techniques behind them. Once I had learnt those techniques, I started using them and created my own imagery. I like to believe that my art belongs to my “shadow”. I think of it as an atavistic passion, something that has belonged to my memory for a long time. I use the objects that I collect to create “animations in freedom”: these objects, released from the bounds of gravity, can better perform “alternative” actions and movements, in line with my Keatonesque idea of direction.

What have been some of your biggest influences in the field of stop motion photography and film?

Quirino Cristiani, Stan Van Der Beek, Robert Breer, Norman Mclaren, Pritt Parn, Wladislav Starewicz, Jan Svankmajer, Jerzy Zitzman, Jan Lenica, Manfredi Manfredi, Grant Munro, Caroline Leaf, Oskar Fischinger, Alexeieff & Parker, Jiri Trnka, Karel Zeman and Norman McLaren… He’s the nexus between dance and animation.

You have been interviewed by IdN and Wired Magazine. What have been some of your most memorable experiences from these interviews and how have they helped your career?

A lot of people got to know about me and my work, they discovered and liked and shared my videos so I’m obviously grateful to them.

Who commissions most of your work?

Mostly fashion brands and music video’s. The production machine of music videos is more self-confident, it’s faster, less elephantine and has fewer obstacles than that of commercial films. You feel less the weight of responsibility and so you can work with more energy and more spontaneity. Clients give me a lot of freedom also because if they contacted me it’s mainly because they already liked my style and taste and they knew me as an author.

Can you tell us more about your latest animated books and how this project started?

“Vento” is an animated book that I started working on after making a music video for John Mayer. In that video I used the same technique and the drawings of Virginia Mori. We decided to print the book independently because we fell in love with that old Victorian technique, ombrocinema.

What are some of your most recent projects that you are most proud of?

I think my short film “Fine” because I made it in two days only and succeeded in telling the lifetime story of a soldier with one of my hands. Literally. There is a real fusion, a fluid exchange between my hand and the soldier of “Fine” and that results in a constant movement towards the symbolist dimension of dreams, something I’m deeply attached to.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

For the kind of life I’ve been living I would say that I can see myself in a coffin, probably with all the little ancient toys and dolls that I collect.

Virgilio Villoresi

Virgilio Villoresi was born November 10, 1979 in Fiesole (Florence,Italy) and now lives in Milan, Italy. He is a multi-talented film maker and artist.


Official Website
Virgilio Villoresi on Vimeo

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