Lost in Words, Ways of Seeing, and Can you hear me? are three animated shorts from the latest Labocine issue Nusantra that examine barriers in communication and perception. The characters of these films try to transcend boundaries between different worlds to connect to the other side. These worlds are bilingual worlds, visual and auditory worlds, as well as digital and human worlds. As we journey through these constructed realities with characters we do not always know, see, or hear, we investigate their struggles and reflect on our many worlds and the psychological and intellectual confinements that accompany them.
Lost in Words is an animated short from the UK and Taiwan by the filmmaker Ivyy Chen that visualizes the confusion and disorientation of the experience of receiving information in a language and processing it in another. The film is packed with fast-paced animations shown from multiple perspectives that display collisions in the character’s bilingual world and mind. Meant to visualize the anticipatory yet confusing and transitional feeling of navigating multiple languages, the film is set in some kind of metro station in London—an equally confusing and intermediary scene—to meticulously and successfully convey its point in a short 2 minutes.
Ways of Seeing, from filmmaker Jerrold Chang, employs intricate and diverse types of animation along with calming music and dialogue to characterize the relationship between the visual and the auditory for these two blind characters. Interestingly, the film, as in Lost in Words,starts and ends in a bus or train station where the two characters meet, transcend to another world, and then come back to resume their individual journeys. In both of these films, an anchor seems to live in intermediary environments like bus or metro stations that the characters can leave and come back to as they learn how to effectively communicate and perceive while confronting truths, that may be seen as barriers, in their realities.
The last film, Can You Hear Me?, is another animation from Taiwan by Yu-Hsin Chang where the girl pictured above, May, starts to struggle with her relationship with her brother, Jackson, once competition shows up: his new smart phone. The film delves into one of the most important shifts in the 21st century that is the changing landscape of communication following the introduction of sophisticated digital worlds and tools that we do not fully understand just yet. Without a single line of dialogue, May presents her struggle in an undeniable and universal manner that transcends all language barriers but still does not break the wall between her and her brother who is completely immersed in this alternate digital reality… until it does.
About the author
Lujain is an undergraduate student studying computer engineering at New York University Abu Dhabi who is particularly invested in engineering applications in the world of biotechnology and biomedicine. She is also interested in exploring science and technology in film as well as the cultural and political significance of cinema.