In our present day and age, the realm of tribes seems to be outnumbered by modern societies. With your project, “Tribe“, you unravel a beautifully diversified way of life that is surreal while also enlivening the experience of tribe life. How did you find yourself drawn to this certain concept of a tribe, or tribal living? What made you choose to explore this rather than, say, a religious cult or a kingdom?
I was fascinated by combining the elements of fantasy with the indigenous culture since I wanted to create something new, something that pushed the limits of my imagination with an aspect of our world that is still in touch with things we in the West have lost connection to. The intimacy with ourselves, nature, the spiritual dimension of our beings, the people around us, the tribe. But I don’t see it as if I’m excluding religious views or kingdoms but rather those are interesting elements I am trying to integrate into the world and the story as well. I love to see the variety of stories, interpretations, worldviews and symbols that emerge in the different parts of our world, and then I try to combine, modify or amplify those into something new.
The individuals we see in “Tribe” are so gorgeously decorated and imbued with layers of detail. We see colors mingling with each other in extravagance. Expressive patterns that dance on skin. What can such visual and tactile impressions say about the tribe these individuals belong to? How does it speak to being a part of a social organization, where so many unique individuals come together as they are?
The colors and patterns on their bodies are based on where in the world of Nakâya they live, which consists of 7 different regions. They are all born single-colored without patterns, and then receive these patterns by drinking from and living close to the river Ngarriguárna that flows through the world. But the colors and patterns are also affected by the tribe they belong to, their family blood, as well as their individual personality and experiences. If they decide to leave the life along the river, the patterns eventually fade or get distorted. To me this idea is way to visualize the layers we gather in our consciousness as we live our lives.
The world of Nakãya, the experienced universe that serves as the setting, is described as “a philosophy, a mirror held up to humanity.” With a world that is so much more mystical than what we know of our own today, in what ways does Nakãya reflect what we understand of our own humanity? Is there some element of universal philosophy that is explored?
I try to find inspiration from our own struggles as humans when creating all of this, whether it is struggles I’ve experienced personally or seeing in the world, like the search for understanding ourselves, facing difficult situations and decisions, exploring our dreams, learning to trust, let go and all the other stuff we have to experience as humans. But also more global challenges, like immigration integration, natural disasters and political conflicts.
“Tribe” entails forces of what we can consider to be good and evil. And a quest to restore balance between the two. What are your thoughts on this dichotomy and how it relates to its effect towards a tribal lifestyle. Can harmony in a tribe exist without the presence of evil? Without the presence of good?
The story is a lot about the dance of duality. The balance of light and darkness. I find it interesting to develop the darker aspects of the story so that it’s more nuanced and relatable instead of just labelling it as evil. I think it’s easy to want to simplify something as black and white, good and evil, but if we go deeper into a situation we find that a situation, or a person, is much more complex than that. And that’s something I want to explore, and communicate in this project.
The characters from this project are stunning from beginning to end. There is something slightly familiar sometimes, and then it turns into something never before seen. How do you work on the build of these characters to create something that takes on some features we see in mammals and insects, and create a whole new form? To what point in its creation do you reach a point where you are satisfied or accomplished in the result?
I find a lot of inspiration from animals and find it fascinating to merge and mix different species. So I usually have an idea and a direction for where I want to go, but since I work a lot with AI tools they usually produce details that I didn’t think of and sometime those give inspiration and new ideas, so in the end I might end up with something completely different to what I first imagined.
When it comes to feeling satisfied I try to disconnect my analytic mind, and not think about if the results are good because it has this feature or this colors, but instead I try to feel if it excites me and evokes something within me. That’s the thing with AI, you can create so much, which is why it’s even more important now to feel deeply if it’s something that stirs something within us so that it can break through the noise of all the content that is produced now.
It is quite impressive to see there is a fleshed out language contained within this project too. Can you tell us about that? What is the significance in a tribe’s language as it pertains to the overall story?
The languages came to life when a guy in France, Raphaël who studies linguistics, contacted me and said he wanted to contribute to the world-building. So for almost a year now we have been working together to bring new languages into Nakãya. I cannot take credit for anything in this, since he is the mastermind, and I think we have more than 4 complete languages now. It really deepens world and makes it more rich, and it’s fun to integrate the languages into the stories, how and why they emerged etc.
It goes without saying but “Tribe” can easily be adapted into a cutting edge film or documentary. With a rich story, so much can be further explored in various mediums. How would you, as the creator, want consumers to experience this artful landscape? If you can have it any way you want (whether the tech exists or not), how do you truly envision your audience to immerse themselves in “Tribe”?
I would love this to be a visual experience. Both as a movie/tv-show but also as an interactive VR-game where people would be able to step into the world and create their own story. I want people to feel the vibrancy of the life in Nakãya, the awe-inspirating nature and perhaps quests and stories that would allow people to have fun while learning more about themselves and life. As you said, it would require some heavy tech, as well as a lot of money, but if the concept continues to grow in the same pace, I don’t think it’s impossible to create something like this in the future.
If you were to be a character yourself in the world of Nakãya, what would be your role? What sort of purpose do you think you would fulfill? What would your character look like?
Good question. I think he would be a little bit of a weird character, perhaps a bit shy. He would have my curiosity for how the world works, and for understanding who and what he is. I would like to play with idea that in the world of Nakãya there are so many beautiful and spectacular things that can catch ones attention, but despite this the character still chooses to redirect his attention inwards to figure out what his life is about. I’m not a very good example of this and gets distracted all the time by the world, but every now and then I manage to come back home to myself and that’s something I’d like to get better at. Then I would like my colors to include green and purple. 🙂