As our book addresses life philosophies for the Internet Age, we felt it important to write the book in the language of the Internet…there’s nothing that says “for the Internet” quite like a dancing Cat GIF!
Installation: Can you provide us insight that speaks to the inspiration of Cat Canyon beginning with the development of the concept and the creation of the characters inspired by Jazz legends?
Bronwyn Lundberg: Sarah and I were taking a road trip to Santa Cruz, bepoppin’ along to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, when we noticed an exit sign for Cat Canyon. We were both so intrigued that we began creating a cast of potential characters for the town we had just invented. Naturally, cat musicians Herb and Alpert came to mind first, and it was easy to flesh out their personalities. As for Nat, the little androgynous girl who gets lost near Cat Canyon, Sarah and I thought it would be funny (but equally as frightening) to get separated from her family’s tour because she was playing a game on her screen tablet at the same time. We recognized the truths in balancing technology and humanism, and decided that a children’s book was in order.
Sarah Zucker: The name of the book and the setting were inspired by a road sign we saw after passing Solvang on a roadtrip up the California coast. The theme was a natural follow-up: I’ve always been interested in the (sometimes bumpy) transition between the Analog Era (aka all of human history up until now) and the Digital Era, so much of my writing tends to revolve around this theme. My mother collected children’s books while I was growing up, so I feel like I’ve been immersed in the format for as long as I can remember. And, as Whitney Houston so aptly put it, “I believe the children are our future.” It seems to me that the next great children’s book author needs to speak to the concerns of the Digital Age, much like Dr. Seuss spoke to the concerns of the late 20th century.
What informs your artistic practice?
Bronwyn Lundberg: Making art was my favorite activity as a child. I would soak up the cartoon imagery I saw and re-create characters like Pinky and the Brain, stashing them away in my mother’s briefcase. At age nine I was featured on the front page of a Humboldt County newspaper titled “Artist Offers Cartoons with a Message.” My yin-yang themed drawings were selling for 50 cents, which allowed me to buy my own treats that summer. The experience was so satisfying, and was the catalyst that solidified my destiny as an artist.
How has technology influenced your art?
Bronwyn Lundberg: In 2004, I enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts. When it came time to narrow down my major, I methodically chose Kinetic Imaging (a new media program featuring video, sound, and animation) because I could see where the future of art was headed. I went straight for the computer-based major because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find work if I studied an “old tradition” like painting. During my three years in the program, my work video work was featured in local galleries, The Dallas Video Festival, etc., but I continually regretted not having taken more fine art classes. When I bought my first Wacom tablet and started drawing directly into Photoshop in 2005, it allowed me to develop my own style of cartoons which later became very pop art focused. It wasn’t until 2012, when I created the digital painting The Lesbian Last Supper, that the news took a serious interest in my work. It was also in 2012 that I began teaching myself how to paint because I wanted to tone down my computer dependency. Now I make a point to paint as much of my work as I can on canvas, because there is such a profound difference between the two methods. Cat Canyon will be created using a mixture of digital and analog techniques, which makes it the perfect project for yours truly.
Sarah Zucker: Bronwyn is an incredible pop artist, both in the digital realm and in traditional painting and drawing. I am not only a writer, but a visual artist as well (one half of The Current Sea), so we decided to pair our natural strong suits to make the book the best it can be: Animated GIF is a visual language in which we are uniquely fluent. Pairing Bronwyn’s drawings with my GIF sensibilities allowed us to make images that quite literally leap out at the viewer: they dance and wiggle and wave.
The GIF is part of the visual vocabulary that represents The Current Sea but distinguishes Cat Canyon from previous illustrated projects presented on Kickstarter in the past.
Sarah Zucker: While the book is its own separate entity (Bron and I work together as “YoMeryl“), it is very much in line with the mission statement of The Current Sea to “explore the confluence of the Analog and the Digital.” As Millenial artists, it’s up to us to carry forward certain Analog traditions before they are voided by the Digital Age. Bron will be using a combination of digital drawing and painted backgrounds for the book art, and we are purposefully giving the book a mid-century, Dr. Seuss-inspired look and feel: we want it to be a familiar new thing.
What do you hope Cat Canyon will achieve?
Sarah Zucker: To completely throw away the forms of the last century would be to stumble around in the dark before the dawn of the digital age; to root oneself firmly in the forms of the past and poo-poo anything new would be to stick one’s head in the sand and ignore the fact that the world is changing: We are dedicated to making art for this transition time, that equally harkens back to the past as much as it looks forward to the future.
We’re offering our Kickstarter backers the chance to have a beautiful printed first edition of the book signed by the author and illustrator: this edition will ONLY be available to our early backers, as we want to reward them for their support with something truly collectible. We will release Cat Canyon as an e-book at the same time, to make the art and the message globally available. While we hope to do another physical printing of the book in the future, we want this initial printing to be a unique work of art, so as to make our infinitely reproducible concept physical, and hence, sacred.
Featured Image of Bronwyn Lundberg and Sarah Zucker by Garet Field-Sells
Featured Image © Installation Magazine
Cat Canyon GIFs courtesy of Bronwyn Lundberg and Sarah Zucker