“Retrocognition” – 2013 Laugh or Die Official Selection!

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‘Retrocognition’ is simultaneously a filmic archeology and a social critique. The film re-contextualizes found assets and animated techniques into a decaying narrative that critiques the meme of the “nuclear family” found in sitcoms. By exploiting the lingering residue of found assets and spectator expectations of animations, cartoons, and sitcoms, ‘Retrocognition’ discovers unconscious intent and cultural bias in its treatment of the nuclear family. Whether the pop-culture myth of the family is found in ‘Ozzie and Harriot’ in the 1950s or a soccer mom in the 1990s, the traditional family is still put forth in US society as an ultimate goal. 

The soundtrack for the film was composed first by collaging together bits of performances from early radio dramas. The soundbites were juxtaposed to reveal unexpected dialogue that borders on the schizophrenic. Because of these collisions, the timbre and emotion of the voices are fluid—jumping between elation, fear, rage, passion, detachment and melancholia. 

Visually, ‘Retrocognition’ is animated in a mixed media style, with the main characters constructed from animated photographs of real humans, and the sets and props constructed from a collage of photographs and mixed media. The photographs are cut up and collaged in a way that mirrors the cut up and found nature of the audio track. This approach leads to an unsettling experience of watching something that has the aesthetic of vintage media sitcoms, yet appears and sounds like it has been hacked to pieces and put back together to reveal a dark alternative to the initial intent.