Sunshine Royale Motel Art Series
You are in an unknown city, staying in a run-down motel taking a shower. As you close the tap and turn to use the scruffy towel to dry yourself, you walk back into the room you just entered for the very first time. This is your sanctuary now, your home. Yesterday it belonged to someone else. And tomorrow, after you’ve checked out, it will do so once more. One room, a different story everyday. Welcome to Sunshine Royale Motel. Four walls. Eleven stories. Told in twenty-two cinemagraphs.
Much time, passion, effort and money was invested in building this little filmset. From testing five different colors on the bathroom tiles to vintage to American wall outlets, it were the smallest details that ultimately tied the room together. And not to forget that it was thanks to the dedication and the volunteering of effort and time by a team of talented professionals that all eleven stories were finally completed within a time frame of only four months.
Cinemagraphs are in a class of their own, somewhere between photography and video. Just like in a regular still frame, in a cinemagraph, time is frozen, yet subtle moving elements bring the frame to life. Individually they will playback in an endless loop, creating the illusion of never-ending motion. The partially frozen parts, combined with the recurring movements give the images a strange and hypnotic effect.
The main theme in this series of images is the motel room itself, where individual passengers briefly occupy the space. It’s like a snapshot that is taken when the outside world is temporarily ignored, once the door is closed. The room itself remains undisturbed, as it is a silent and passive witness to time. Only the guests color the mood inside the walls, over and over again.
Isn’t it funny how four simple walls that form a space you have never been in before, can actually create a sense of safety? Once inside, we immediately start to make it our own. We shut out the world by stepping into a space that is uniform and numbingly predictable. Now imagine looking at all the different stories that play out inside that space day in and day out – from the perspective of the room.
Michel Mölder is an Amsterdam based photographer who specialises in cinemagraphs. He started his career as a camera operator shooting mostly travel shows for Dutch television. Years of experimentation with the combination of both motion and still-imaging media has ultimately resulted in his current and all-out passion for cinemagraphs.
Director of Photography
Strongly influenced by the lighting style of his favorite DP, Roger Deakins, Johan absolutely wanted to create an image involving a cowboy. “We need an iconic silhouette in the doorway. A cowboy hat will do the trick and with the headlights of a car behind it, we enhance the shape with a double shadow!”
As a Director of Photography Johan excels in focussing on the technical aspects during a shoot. Always up to date with the latest tech, his almost 3000 days on set by now, are formed by the desire to control the light in a scene, thus controlling the mood within the frame.
Dictated by the self inflicted “handicap” of the desire to shoot the complete series with a wide angle lens, Johan found great pleasure in creating the perfect frame within the limitations of the small filmset of Sunshine Royale.
Erik de Vogel
Puck Pommelien Busser
Gerrie van der Klei
For almost two years Mölder and Dijkstra worked on constructing their own custom made sound stage, which served as location for the Sunshine Royale motel room. Built inside an old warehouse that serves as a photo studio, a small idea grew into this stunning conceptual project of passion. In Chemnitz, Germany, they found the perfect location that suited as a backdrop. Visible through the window and open door of the set, the outside had to match the interior. Dictated by the time of day and perspective in the final shot on set, they matched the exterior of a 50’s theme motel to fit with the inside of the room.
Time x Space
Time elapsing is only noticeable when observing motion. It is what makes us register the ticking of the clock. But the interesting thing about time is that it only exists in the past and in the future. This very moment, the here and now, is so elusive that it can only be seen when there is no motion at all. In a photograph we capture the existence of this present moment by freezing up time. However, when we add subtle motion to a frozen moment, time can be extended within this vacuum and seems to last forever.
Space is personal. Our brains will color in a specific space a million different ways every time. By looking at the world from our own perspectives we decide how we feel about it. And it is the unchanging-ness of the motel room that treats us to the strangest of all forms of decay – perhaps, even the most beautiful one of them all: the one that comes from time standing still.
When the new is worn down through neglect, the passing of time is exactly what infuses a space with character: an identity of it’s own. After all, a room’s ghost will always leave a scar on it’s walls. And is the feeling of security we get when we close the doors behind us, therefore, not always real.
There is a strange contradiction in our brains when we look at an image in which time has been frozen, yet would appear to be moving ever so slightly. That hypnotic effect of the cinemagraph will slow down the viewer’s perspective of time and pull the audience right into that very moment. Just like the guests closing the door of the motel room, visitors will briefly forget about what’s outside of the walls of the venue and be free to connect with the characters.
The project lives naturally on the web, but it must also be experienced in real life. A grande exhibition will start with a kick-off event showing all twenty-two images together in a single dimmed space, in which visitors can immerse themselves in all eleven stories. By taking the time to explore the characters and all the unexpected detail to be found within the elements of each frame, visitors will be invited – albeit briefly – to step into a different world. The one called Sunshine Royale.
The series is a grand exhibit on digital screens. A filmic collection of subjective storylines, each told in two cinemagraphs, side by side. While the one image focusses on the motel guest expressing a particular emotion, the other reveals the surrounding scene within the room, as it (literally) looks at the story from a different angle. As part of one display, the images complement – but may also contradict one another. And with that give the spectator the opportunity to complete the remainder of the story, subjectively.
Coffee Table Book
The exhibition is complemented with the publication of a salon table-book, in which, in addition to the cinemagraphs, a milestone-account reveals how the project was realized at a self-made filmset in an empty warehouse on the south side of Amsterdam. Through a small qR-code underneath each image, using a smart phone, the selected printed images from the series come alive by becoming cinemagraphs once more.
Unique for this project was the decision to shoot the complete series on a single wide-angle lens. This way we were able to really get up close and personal for the tight shots, while still retaining much of the room in the background. In addition, the wide angle view emphasized in the total shot the desolation of the characters; not only in relation to the room around them, but also to an inner wasteland we feel in them, but do not yet fully see.
Canon EOS C300MII
4096 x 2160
Sigma Art High Speed 20mm T1.5 FF
400 (one stop push)
Canon Log 2