Paper fantasy

Early Morning Life is an animation film project and installation about poverty, childhood, ambition, dreams and class divisions.
Posted 13 Jun 11 By Design Indaba Craft Creative Work / Design News Comments

Stockholm-based Thai designer Saran Yen’s Early Morning Life project is a cut-out animation film with various miniature set designs.

The mini sets are created with different materials, including paper, fabric and organic components like leaves and wheatgrass.

Yen describes the project as a critique on modern Thai society, which has a particularly large gap between rich and poor. This division is apparent in all spheres of life, from lifestyle to culture, family institutions and politics.

There was a time, Yen explains, when he mistakenly thought his parents were well-off but pretended that things were otherwise so that he would grow up modestly. This background is the context for Early Morning Life where the first part is an animated film with a stuck-up, middle-class son examining the poor childhood his parents experienced, their hidden ambitions and how they escaped the harsh reality of their lives.

The film’s visual style is taken from the kinds of neon paintings that are often seen in souvenir shops and described as “low art". In this style the film considers the lives of working class Thais and “how they create their mental space to escape from the harsh reality of life”.

What Yen is ultimately trying to convey with Early Morning Life is a message about the simple, little things in life. It’s about how hopes and dreams can be very rewarding and how true happiness can be found somewhere in the background.

The combination of animation, motion graphics and sound is set in an extremely slow space. This allows for the exploration of different styles of animation. The set, or the environment, plays a key role in this film. Yen says: “Therefore, the movement of the animated characters are mostly minimised and composed in a similar way to Tableau vivant style.”