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Meet Cassie Shao

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cassie Shao.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I officially started making animation while I was at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago years back; ever since I have been making short films, collaborating with amazing directors and musicians on music videos, animating for experiential installations at galleries and museums, and participating here and there in making animated television series.

It has mostly been a journey of finding reflections of myself through the works, dreams and voices. I discovered that I am the most drawn to questions without answers to. I make to question, and I am okay with not finding the answers. I remember watching the short film Balance back in Chicago and liking the ending, where he stood on the plane looked helplessly at the box on the opposite corner. His choices remained simply standing there or to fall; and I liked that aspect about it. I believe even insoluble questions are worthy of being mentioned.

Making animations about my dreams, and the reality told through dream imagery have been extremely fun. I enjoy creating the otherworldly perspective. As I try to achieve that, I went down the road of mixing and blending all mediums I could think of and capturing the texture of everything I see fit. I find chaos and contradictions the most charming, and they are emphasized continuously more. I do realize that it creates some sort of distance as if examining something very personal from ten feet away, and it steers the audience away from designated emotions; but sometimes with this distance, sparks curiosity.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It took me a long time to circle my works back to myself. I practiced to become someone else a lot and loved starting over again somewhere new. It took me a rather long time to face the fact that right now is the only way it could have been and to really step inside. I made my characters to be my role model, despite being left often in isolated and growing surreality, they are forever unmoved by the situation and only speak when necessary. They are still my role models, and while I am inevitably a person with quite strong emotions and most of the times act solely on instincts, I find that slowly I was able to show vulnerabilities that eventually drew me closer to my existence, and maybe to others.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I make mixed-media animation that combines both digital and analogue mediums, namely digital cel animation with stylized 3D graphics and under-the-camera techniques such as paint on glass, sand animation and paper cutouts, etc. Mostly known for making weird, oddly surreal dreamscape animations; I aim to create an experience that would take audiences on a journey through worlds that exist beyond (but cannot without) the reality. I put emphasizes on deconstructed time, namely fragmented moments that would remain forever in both the virtual and in reality, and also specialize in creating unique colour palettes.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would love the extra time to watch and read a lot more things, and that I would have many more “cheating” years to further develop my projects. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have done anything differently. Since everything I did and experienced, even all the misery and the long, winding detours I took lead me to where I am now; and I think out of all my life, I like where I am now the most. Although if I could start over as another being, I’d like to be a tree.

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Image Credit:
Kane Wang

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