London animator uses symbols to convey culture shock

Symbolic London

London-based animator and illustrator, Ke Ren, used her artistic talent to express her feeling of culture shock during her move from Beijing to London. She created a short film called ‘Symbols’, where she employed an innovative approach using symbols, numbers, and letters to share her experiences.

The richness of the different cultures she encountered during her journey had a profound influence on her art. However, the language barriers posed quite a challenge for her, both in her personal life and in her artistic journey. Dealing with these linguistic differences also found its way into her creations.

Following her move to London, Ke often felt confused and isolated due to language difficulties. This sparked an interest in language, characters, and symbols, which she expressed in her short film. Through her art, she brought attention to the struggles many experience when facing language barriers.

Her animation does not follow traditional storytelling methods.

Combating culture shock through symbolic animation

Instead, she encourages viewers to interpret the symbols based on their personal perceptions. The film was developed from her academic exploration of synthetic languages like emojis and the Martian language. In doing so, she broke the barriers of common dialects and invited the audience into a conversation that transcends linguistic boundaries.

The making of ‘Symbols’ involved the use of brush, ink, and digital software. The frame-by-frame animation process, using TVPaint, took two months. This proved that the journey from sketch to final product, though challenging, could also be engaging.

The film’s musical composition, created by James Ryan, beautifully complements the visuals without overshadowing them. The soundtrack not only enhances the film’s aesthetic but also increases its emotional depth, making ‘Symbols’ a more memorable piece.

Despite the challenges during its creation, ‘Symbols’ managed to receive positive feedback. Ke’s hope is for a diverse audience to connect with ‘Symbols’ on an emotional level, which would demonstrate the potent impact art can have when built on personal experiences and influences.