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What is the The Circle Experiment?

By Whitewall

March 28, 2013

Last winter Whitewall’s very own Creative Director Guillaume Wolf published a curious little book, You are a Circle. In the months since it has been a surprising hit (selling out at bookstores in Los Angeles, CA and making the TED Conference book store selection). The positive feedback inspired Wolf to launch a new project on Kickstarter this week, “The Circle Experiment.”

Above is a teaser trailer for the short film Wolf is funding through Kickstarter (a new trend for independent films as we saw from our interview with director Kaleb Wentzel-Fisher). Inspired by Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), it, too, will be constructed entirely from still, black and white photos. Here we let Wolf tell us what this “experiment” is all about.

WHITEWALL: Since “The Circle Experiment” evolves from You are a Circle, perhaps we should start there. How would you describe You are a Circle?

GUILLAUME WOLF: The book is a bit of an exercise in minimalism. Visually, there are aphorisms on the left pages that are echoed by repeating handmade black circles on the right page (that are always different). Quotes plus circle, quotes plus circle, etc. What happens with this book is that, as the reader flips through it, the relationship between the images and the text creates a third narrative that’s unique to each reader. It ends up being a visceral experience.

WW: How did the book inspire you to create “The Circle Experiment?”

GW: There are multiple ways to interpret the book. I wanted to develop the parts that were the most abstract and poetic. I simply asked myself if there would be a way to transfer these on another format — film.

WW: What exactly is the experiment?

GW: My lips are sealed! All I can tell you is that it has to do with life. Life is a big experiment, don’t you think?

WW: How mysterious! Speaking of mystery, the movie is a mystery, the story of a woman waking up in the middle of the desert in an astronaut suit and her quest to find out what happened to her. How did you come up with this story?

GW: This may sound weird, but as with many things that I do, the idea just landed on me (I was in the shower, I think).

WW: We get all our best ideas in the shower.

GW: Exactly! But the story is really a fable about larger themes: reality, loss, human frailty, and beauty.

WW: Are these themes that preoccupy you as an artist?

GW: Yes, very much so. I’m really interested in how we live our lives as human beings. I feel that both our collective and individual stories are fascinating. Human frailty, combined with the beauty and ruthlessness of life, is a spectacular mix. Loss is an important theme for me; first, because I experienced it in my own life, but also because it’s deeply embedded in the human experience. I think it’s very hard for us to comprehend that life means simultaneously life AND death. And as an artist, I’m very aware of that —this is a major theme for me.

WW: Why fund this project on Kickstarter?

GW: Today, we know that art has evolved into a commodity. This is a trend that unfortunately comes with a major set of problems. You know, if I have the desire to create something, I don’t want to ask permission to an authority or worry that what I intend to do may or may not reflect “market trends.”

To me, art is the ultimate freedom, period. And on the other hand, we’re now living in an interconnected society where it’s easy to interact with people. Using crowd-sourcing to fund an art project seems to me the purest, most modern way to create art today. It’s a great way to meet new patrons of the arts.

WW: Your Kickstarter campaign focuses a lot on community, which is the nature of Kickstarter, sure. But what do you think of this movement of creating a community?

GW: You know, that’s a great question. First, with filmmaking, you work with a team, a small community. But there’s more . . . Recently I realized that the boundary between artist and public is non-existent. One creates the other and vice-versa. With this project, we’re really excited to build a community because all our backers are, in a way, co-creating the project with us. So we’re going to involve them in our process (which is going to be a lot of fun) and together, we’re going to create art. I really like this idea . . . This, is an interesting experiment.

Guillaume WolfKickstarterThe Circle ExperimentWhitewallYou Are a Circle


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