No alcohol for Mr. Zumbakamera (aka Jossie Malis), born Peruvian, adopted as a Chilean although vocationally Spanish / Catalan. A very latin parcour noticeable in each of his colour drops, each animation sequence and each line of those surrealistic and many times psychedelic plots…
You’ll probably know him for his Memento Mori animated short… the most anguishing way of dying without any doubts is being trapped inside a lift which goes down to hell. A piece that did not only collect several international awards (EEUU, Argentina, Spain) but also got the creative directors of MTV International interested in this work…. they finished using it as one of their irreverent ads.
Part of his work has been broadcasted in websites, compilations and international festivals or networks such as… Stash, Resfest, Channel Frederator, Pictoplasma, Annecy…. Flash Forward, IdN, Carton D’or and many more. Lately he’s been working on a Franco-German documentary focused on the Andean coca leaf and another doc for Stanford university around genetic illnesses.
aqnb: How’re you doing Jossie? A few questions?
Fantastico Morales, Bendito Machine, Memento Mori, Zumbakamera… which ingredients does a magician like you use for cooking such luscious recipes?
JM: I’m pretty much attracted to exotic ingredients. I enjoy telling stories that are closer to the oneiric level rather than what we define as reality. I’m interested in human relationships as a reference, but above all, I’m interested in those inexplicable things which many times frustrate our rationale. That’s why I prefer to stick & explore to the fantasy or science fiction, without missing the opportunity to criticize our beautiful & annoying way of life.
I’m very concerned about many daily issues, especially those which are frustrating for most of us, because we are unable to react. They force us to accept incredible situations no-one asked for and certain people keep pushing the spoon in our mouth so we digest in the end. I do this as a self-therapy, to deal with those demons that cause us so much pain.
I think the key-solution is to share ideas, alternative ways of conceiving life, not take anything for granted and keep questioning, as many times as necessary… why so many situations, wills, institutions or mysterious forces program our life without letting us react. In my case, this curious behaviour allows me to see life with from a point of view and share this way of conceiving life with whoever presses the play button.
aqnb: Religion (pagan, Christian, scientific …) is very present in many of your works. In fact these have been used as an example to discuss the role of religion in today’s society. What is your message? And what about the money, consumption, dependency … which religion is the strongest for us earthly beings?
JM: I grew up between two families, not only from different nationalities but also with different religions. Since I was a kid I found it difficult trying to understand why my mother’s family praised certain symbols while my father’s would use others. I thought it was quite pointless having so many differences when in the end we all laughed & cried for the same reasons.
When I started to grow my first pubic hair I suddenly realised I couldn’t believe in any religious fantasy, nor in god or any antediluvian legend. Being religion something unquestionable for so many people made me ask myself (even more) why we took for granted so many things. In the end religions are a mere expression of human weakness, and getting rid of them from my humble point of view, allows you to look into life without fear and with an infinite variety of colors.
The history of human progress can be summarized in the absurd battle between science and religion, fortunately, the more our knowledge grows, the less religious superstitions will be, it’s just a matter of time.
Why? Because basically, all religious beliefs are inoculated in our brains when we’re very small and we don’t have the choice or opportunity to protest. It’s all there is, this chip is passed down from generation to generation; is the overwhelming support of religious faith. I understand that for most people is unimaginable to think there is no God, people need to believe in him to justify their own existence. It must be very hard to consider abandoning this imaginary being which we’re not even sure it exists; just like Father Christmas or the tooth fairy… very hard.
In Bendito Machine, I use many references from the Bible, a book I consider one of the most powerful and enduring science fiction, horror and fantasy novels.
Despite having a very clear position regarding my faith, no one is free from living under the same rules on this planet, in some areas is more difficult than others, but we all certainly dance to the same song where money is the only lyric. It doesn’tt matter if your god is blue like a smurf, a ruthless angry one who only wants to see you suffer or be indefinite with a meatball and pasta body … we all need money and there is no Holy God that can change this matter. Even HE needs money! Ask Benedict & Co if not.
aqnb: Bendito Machine is our favourite work, it does not only fascinate us from a creative point of view… it’s also proving to be very successful. You’ve kind of transformed it into a brand for the last couple of years. Could we consider it as your ID card?
JM: Bendito Machine emerged as a dark and critical audio-visual experiment. Initially I had no plans to create a series, but right after finishing the first short, I felt there were still many things to be told. After its success across several festivals I realized it had a big potential to continue being developed. It was at that time when I visualized the continuity of the project as a series.
The project is almost four years old and still many years to come, is like a baby I’m very affectionate with.
aqnb: What Inca / Indian influences does it have? Which part of your cultural inheritance is present?
JM: The Andean influence is definitely very present. As a child I lived surrounded by loads of Andean symbolisms which intrigued me deeply. The ability for graphical simplification of those people who lived in the area thousands of years ago…, I always found it very powerful. In addition to the Andean culture, I have a weakness for Asian and African cultures in general, for all those things which are able to shake and stir my retinas, regardless of the time period.
aqnb: Do you consider it retro-futuristic …. or some kind of equivalent to the English steampunk but slightly more Latin?
JM: In the case of Bendito Machine I use the resource of the shadow theatre, which has more than five thousand years. Formerly, these shows were used to tell religious and spiritual fables about how to frighten demons, and in some ways, I like the idea of continuing that tradition but with modern tools.
I like steampunk, and I think many of the machines that can be seen in Bendito Machine could be classified as such, and finally, the use of shadows, two-dimensional elements and a single background colour, gives it a very primitive essence to the series.
aqnb: “All you need”, “It’s the spark of life”, “Obey his orders,” and soon “Do not forget to Run” … machine obsession or phobia?
JM: I love machines in general, from a bulldozer parked on the street to the inside of a pocket watch. The mechanics, the inner workings of things, the human capacity to invent devices that can take you into space, moving tons of earth or tell you what time it is…. they move me. Rather than phobic I would consider myself obsessive.
aqnb: More than a year since the last Bendito (Holy) Machine …. will there finally be 10 episodes? There are fans who’ve been asking for an animated film ….
JM: Time flies… If’ we’re lucky there will be even more than 10 shorts, but unfortunately, Bendito Machine is a project without any type of funding. For the past two years I’ve been looking for financial support in that thing so-called “animation industry”, but I haven’t been very successful. The most realistic thing to do is that after the next chapter (already in production but no confirmed release date) I’ll go for a crowdfunding campaign in order to keep the series going… thanks to those donations coming from the Bendita family who closely follow the project. Again, if we’re lucky I’ll have more time to dedicate to this project and speed up the production of those new Holy Machines.
The idea of a long animated film would be great, but I still have many episodes ahead of me.
aqnb: Where does so much tentacle and psycolor come from?
JM: The tentacles thing is something I’ve talked about with many friends who are also illustrators and animators. It’s funny to see that certain patterns are used more than others in the illustration & drawing world. I have always used tentacles which I find very attractive to draw and conceptually very powerful. They are smart, cunning and dangerous, like a politician! Although saying they’re elegant might be a bit too exaggerated …
I recently discovered the Tarvuismo and I came to the conclusion that maybe I’m a Tarvuist without knowing. For them the octopuses are sacred creatures with whom you can communicate with (and by the way, the barbecue and ceviche octopus is something everyone must try once in a lifetime, it’s delicious!!).
Psycolor is a term that defines my necessity to tell stories with lots of colour in order to play kindly with the viewer’s psyche.
aqnb: What future projects do you have in mind? Where would you like to see your works & your blessed machines?
JM: Currently I’m working on several educational projects as well as several documentaries. At the same time I’m writing a couple of scripts for personal projects I hope will see the light in a not too distant future; and when I have some free time I try to dedicate myself to Bendito Machine. I also have another project selling artwork online (printastic) where anyone can buy reproductions of illustrators around the world. By buying in this shop you contribute & help each artist, in my case it helps producing Bendito Machine.
I was once shown a photo of the first Bendito Machine short being projected on a drawbridge in Saint Petersburg (Russia), sometime after a kid sent me a photo of one of my machines tattooed all over his arm; I keep getting surprised with these kind of things. Honestly I think that for the time being I would just like to see finished the whole BM series. I would be satisfied with that.
aqnb: It was a pleasure Jossie, we hope your shadows will continue to adore this mystical meta-science so addictive and so representative of the human simplicity.
JM: It was my pleasure, thank you very much for your interest 😉