You Are Not Your Hands: In Conversation With FLUX28

"Our initial idea was to get the film narrated in such a way that it would look, feel, and sound like a wildlife documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough."

It has now been over one year since the pandemic first broke out.

With a year of isolation and quarantine, social distancing, and separation from loved ones and the world, fear was the one common denominator that kept us alive. 

In the spirit of composing that same fear into a reality, artists Tsa Meera and Talha KK from FLUX28, with the support of Cendana, have created a short film for mass consumption. Exploring the ideations of how your hands can be your enemy, the duo has created a narrated-styled short film, resonating with the same tune of a BBC Planet documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Presenting itself in a manner of art exploration, deep, bright colours, and a flowy storyline, You Are Not Your Hands is a simple and unnerving descent into a horrifying reality of things. In collaboration with Mulazine and the artists from FLUX28, we’ll be airing the short film on our website for a limited 3 days. Enjoy it while you can, and may you not be defined by your hands. 

What made you want to create such a piece? What sparked the idea to join art and science to educate the masses on the COVID-19 pandemic this way?

We would first like to give thanks to Cendana for having a variety of funding schemes available to all sorts of creatives. One of their programs CreateNow enabled us at FLUX28 to roll up our sleeves and manifest our thoughts and ideas about the worldwide pandemic. 

Let’s do a throwback and look at our behaviour when COVID-19 first took place early this year. We were very careful and observant of where we put our hands, and most of us likely developed a habit of sanitizing frequently. We were also more paranoid about being too close to other individuals due to the social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus. These were where our ideas came from and we felt like it was an important point to communicate this through our film, not only as a creative expression but also to document this relatable moment in time. We also wanted to approach this in a new and interesting way, breaking away from all that we’ve done before this. In doing this project, we got to explore the limitations that were brought up by COVID-19. We learned to make do with what we had at the time. In an interesting turn of events, we believe that the short film turned out rather nicely. 

Who did the voiceover for the short movie? Why did you choose this individual?

Our initial idea was to get the film narrated in such a way that it would look, feel, and sound like a wildlife documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough. We tried to make it sound as authentic as possible and tried to emulate a  “documentary style” sound. We did this to catch the attention of a mature observer but we did it in such a way so that it would also have a comedic twist. 

Where did you and your partner draw art direction when filming this short film? Take us through your process! Who came up with the script, the set design, and the accompanying items that helped complete your film? Did you get additional help from your peers in the industry to accomplish this or was it just the both of you? 

Given the situation at the time, when the first lockdown took place, none of us knew how it was going to impact our lives, how it was going to affect our feelings, and the way we reacted to our normal day-to-day routines. We were also really bored out of our minds and because we could not go anywhere, we tried to bloom our creative side even more. We didn’t want this period to stifle our creative selves from dying out.  It didn’t take my partner and me very long to come up with the story and the script for the short film. We settled on the idea of our “hands”, an important part of our bodies that is easily overlooked by most able-bodied folk. We questioned the notion of “what if our hands were thought of as an entity of its own”. Believe it or not, we did everything at home! We made do with whatever we had around the house, moving around some furniture here and there to make the scene better put-together, adjusting the lighting, and, voilà. We came up with a short film.

The film was only possible because of the cohesive teamwork between my partner and me. Although lockdown prevented us from seeing other people, we managed to engage with some of the best creatives to complete this project. The sound editing and curation, animation, and VFX were made by close creative peers. 

For us, COVID-19 has shown us how virtual communication is less time-consuming and it saves us the hassle of physically going to meet other people. And when you really think about it, there are also fewer carbon emissions too *wink*. 

I personally have been always interested in the idea of what the hand can do. It is, as you said in the film, an extension of the human body. A tool to help execute tasks. What drew you to use this form of expression?

If you think about it, our brains are basically supercomputers. However, without our limbs, it’s just a thinking machine. When we decided to move forward with this idea, we saw hands as a major delivery of assistance and how they were not only helpful but also a necessary extension of the self and the world around us. In the film, we narrated the hands to be viewed through a compassionate lens. We wanted to create an emotional bond between the hands on the screen and those who were viewing the short film. We looked down at these extensions of the body and found a space of empathy for them. We asked ourselves, what we considered, a hard-hitting question. “If your hands could talk to you, what would they say?”

Tell us a bit about your partner and how he helped assist you with your art.

FLUX 28 is a creative powerhouse and it was founded by both of us as individuals coming from different creative backgrounds. The group consists of both myself [Tsa Meera] and my partner, Talha KK. We came together and were immediately able to work cohesively. We were able to fit into each other’s perspectives like puzzle pieces. I come from an art, design, and multimedia background, while Talha, comes from filmmaking. Hence, it has not only been eye-opening but also an interesting journey to be on in terms of melding different viewpoints of art and making a project like this. 

A lot of creatives have been in limbo since the pandemic broke out. Being stuck at home for long periods of time can be damaging to the psyche, especially if you’re left to your own devices. How have you been coping with the madness?

Trust me, the process was not an easy one. Despite trying to maintain a cheery and positive outlook, most of the people I know went deep down a dark rabbit hole. Some had financial issues, and psychological and even mental woes. We were fine physically, but of course, I was not an exception from this issue. 

When the first lockdown happened, we really tried to keep some routines to maintain some sanity. We had daily walks and got as much fresh air as we could every other day. We had a lot of work to keep us busy as well so that was nice for us too. The reality of the matter was, we considered ourselves very lucky. A number of our peers in the industry lost their jobs. However, we consistently pushed through with what we were doing so we didn’t really have time to entertain any negative thoughts that came to us. 

On the topics of creatives, we also see the art being put out at this time, like yours and your contemporary, Adam Ummar for example, shines more light on personal health and cleanliness, especially during this period. Did you draw inspiration from any particular art periods that co-existed in times of plagues or those that were ravaged by disease when creating this film?

Not exactly. We didn’t draw any particular inspiration from a specific art period. We were more focused on the present and how our future could and will be affected by the pandemic. Because of the pandemic, we’re more observant of where we place our hands and what we do with them, be it touching our faces, scratching our eyes, or even picking at scabs. 

Hence, our behaviour changed so quickly and drastically and it inherently resulted in a newfound fear of maintaining physical contact with other human beings. For us, it is this “cause-and-effect” aspect that we’re trying to communicate in this film. All my previous works of art have a common theme of self-expression, and they usually have a personal metaphor as well and are explored through different mediums of creation and presentation.

Do you see your art being more different than it was previously? I understand that you dabble in all kinds of art forms! Do you see yourself diverting away from certain types of art expressions especially now due to current circumstances?

Of course! I’m the type of person who gets bored pretty easily with what I’m doing. Sometimes I find it rather difficult to be stuck with the same style for long periods. There have been instances where I’ve already moved on to a new art style and my audience members are still left behind catching up and trying to understand my work.

I feel entertained by the fact that I will always surprise myself and that has always kept me on my toes. I think the fast-paced social media landscape has not helped my own or anyone’s patience with digesting what is put out or how much we need to put out ourselves. There is an influx of content out there and that has inherently created big stress in a lot of our lives. There has been an awareness of churning content and the need to keep digesting more than what we’re supposed to be on a daily basis.  I genuinely do not know for sure if I will divert myself away from certain art expressions and movements at the moment. I guess only time will be able to tell. 

Lastly, before we wrap this up, do you have any more short films that are in the making? “You’re Not Your Hands” really captured our attention on how dangerous the COVID-19 virus is. We’re wondering if there are any more films that you’re going to be making that would put all of us viewers at the edge of our seats again any time soon.

That is a big yes. We have something cooking up so stay tuned for that! Thank you for watching “You’re Not Your Hands” and we’re very glad to have shared it with all of you. 

Do let us know how it’s impacted you. Share your thoughts on our official Instagram page and @flux_28. Till then, see you next time. 

You are not your hands available for viewing from 9 PM on the 28th of January 2021 till the 31st of January 2021 at 9 PM. Click here to learn more. 

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