Taking paper dolls to a higher level

Early Morning Life : Paper cutout animation from S A R A N yen P A N Y A on Vimeo.

“There was a time,” artist Saran Yenpanya explains, “when I mistakenly believed that my parents were well-off, but pretended to be otherwise in hoping that I would grow up modestly… In truth they are quite poor. Plus, I turned out to be a snob.” This somewhat startling revelation and confession is at the heart of Yenpanya’s short animation about a stuck-up, middle-class boy telling the story of how he was shocked to discover the extreme poverty of his parents’ childhood in rural Thailand. “Early Morning Life” is a critique of the classism that exists not only in families but on a national level in Thailand as well.

Of course, what caught my eye wasn’t the plot or its underlying message, but the striking visuals. Yenpanya used plants, fabric, paint and brightly-colored paper to capture Thailand’s lush, tropical environment. Each tiny flower petal and palm frond is cut by hand and then painstakingly constructed into various sets. I love the ingenious use of lighting, the reflective quality of the sequins under the water and the roughy cut geometric shapes of the characters’ faces. Think of the work involved in making just the pieces shown in the picture below, and then multiply it. Yenpanya must have god-like patience. Check out the other work on his website, where he modestly describes himself as a “stuff maker.”