Recent graduate Young Gul Cho (MFA 2017 Computer Arts) has been selected as a finalist for the 2017 Student Academy Awards in the Domestic Animation category for her thesis film E-delivery (watch a trailer below), which follows the factory production of a baby constructed via Artificial Intelligence and assembled by daily-use machines, including a coffee maker, smart phone and computer. “Is it possible that machines will disrupt our natural biological imperative to reproduce? The film takes us into a factory that produces humans so we can see what that’s like,” she says. “Audiences may be amused, horrified, or both.”
Student Academy Awards winning films are eligible for entry into the following year's Oscar competition and past winners include filmmakers as diverse and renowned as Spike Lee, John Lasseter, Trey Parker and Robert Zemeckis. The presentation ceremony will be held in the fall at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California.
I spoke further with Cho about E-delivery, its making and recognition thus far: “It makes me happy that I can deliver what I want to say with my film.”
Can you talk about how the film came to be?
I wanted to critique today's cultural climate of humans' total dependency on machines. It's impossible for people to live without their computers and smartphones. And they aren't considering the danger something like artificial intelligence poses in the future. AI has already matched human capacities in several areas. Now is the time for us to prepare, to make serious decisions about our relationship to AI before we allow ourselves to be controlled by the machines we created. For me, the nomination means that many people might understand that it is worth thinking over the relationship between technology and humankind.
Who did you look to for inspiration in terms of story and visuals?
By chance, I saw Raoul Hausmann's [a Berlin Dada artist] Mechanical Head (The Spirit of Our Time) . He attached measuring devices like a pocket watch, camera parts and a ruler to a head to express the pressure and suffering these devices create for our minds. That inspired me to show a future state when machines intervene more directly into human's [way of being]. I was also visually inspired by Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), a famous graphic designer.
What led you to computer art and animation and to SVA for your MFA?
I majored in Media Design in Korea. I wanted to broaden my perspective and take my studies in animation further by making my own film. One of the professors I respected most also had graduated from SVA, so she recommended the school to me.
As a recent graduate, what are your next steps? Do you have any words of wisdom for current students or aspiring animators?
I'm currently doing my internship at Framestore in NYC. I want to meet diverse people in the industry and learn not only technical skills but also social ones, like how to cooperate within a professional team. And I should say to current students try not to obsess too much over your software skills. Just be creative!
For more information about the Student Academy Awards, click here.