Life Rewired Shorts: Web Jungle by Yanqi Liang

Animated woman in the sky
6 Dec 2019
3 min watch

What does a ‘free world’ look like for humans? Exploring ideas around surveillance and freedom, animator Yanqi Liang presents 'Web Jungle', a surreal world where civilians are surveyed by a group of administrators who monitor the jungle. 

How would you describe your film?
Web Jungle is a narrative animated response to the topic of ‘surveillance vs freedom’. What does a ‘free world’ look like for humans? I would like to show a possible threat in the future world where humans could trace and survey people anywhere, in any format. 

In the world of ‘Web Jungle’, every animal (civilians) is surveyed by an upper-class group of administrators through a monitor which can see anywhere in the jungle. The Administrator accidentally loses track of the butterfly girl, and so has to go inside the jungle to catch her… 

How does your film respond to the ideas behind Life Rewired? 
Nowadays, to use the technology we have come to rely on, more personal data is being recorded and provided online. Our private data is shared everywhere, beyond geographical boundaries – which could become an issue which will have a huge impact on the individual. 

Common oppressions make common causes

In urban cities, our every movement is captured by CCTV and cameras everywhere, transforming the city into a ‘CCTV jungle’. Computer, phone, camera, laptop - all our electronic devices can be turned into a survey machine if they wanted to. It is hard to say that we have true freedom or privacy. In my perspective, humans will never have a free world, as we always live under control.  However, common oppressions make common causes. The citizens will use their way to defend surveillance. They would try to hide, escape or provide fake information to protect their privacy.

Can you explain the process behind the making of your film? 
I have always been interested in the question of whether the human can be free in this world. My RCA graduation film Sad Circus also showed a perspective on this question: ‘The world constitutes a control loop, no one in the circle could escape’. So I have always had this idea in my mind. 

I started with the script for Web Jungle. All the data is flowing in the river like water, all the personal information is rooted in the soil like a tree. The animals, hiding all over the forest, observe an invader's every move. When he walks through the forest, his tracks will stay there. When he tries to leave, he found himself lost in there. 

The reason why I choose ‘jungle’ as the keyword of my film is that my hometown Hangzhou is a beautiful city full of greens, I enjoy walking around the city to get close to nature. In the film, I combine the jungle elements with the surreal dream-like atmosphere to create a futuristic look. 

The most time-consuming part during the whole production was animating. Web Jungle is a frame by frame animation, I draw and paint each frame by myself digitally on a PC. Even though this method is old-school and slow, I still can’t get rid my obsession with ‘boiling’ lines. 

Filmmakers are still inspired, touched, influenced by the real world.

What does the filmmaker of the future look like? 
We can already see how technology can lead us into a fantastical virtual world, but filmmakers are still inspired, touched, influenced by the real world. We might see more new technology being used in filmmaking, but I think future filmmakers will still be questioning, criticising and responding to the present. 
 

About the filmmaker

Yanqi Liang is a Chinese animation director, illustrator, obsessed with creating weird surreal elements. Her works mainly focuses on exploring the contrast and similarity between the real and virtual world. She graduated with an MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art and a BA in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts. Her films have been screened at international animation and film festival including MIAF, Anim’est, VOID and Cefalu. Find more information on her website: cargocollective.com/yanqiliang

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