Arts  /  December 6, 2019

Core Story: Passion for animation, inspiration from Baltimore, and the coffee shops of The Core – fuel “Life And Chaos”

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We've been watching the transformation of a nearby facade. At first it seemed like a normal renovation, and then we realized it was turning into a piece of art. So we looked into it because we thought there might be a story there. Yes, there was, and it’s not a simple one. It begins in a hardscrabble quarter of Chennai, and the bustling streets of Seoul, winds its way through the antebellum mansions of Savannah, and the 21st Century gleam of Silicon Valley, and includes stops at the Pro Bowl and Hollywood, before landing in the restaurants and coffee shops of the Core. It's a story about art and friendship, it's a story about the world and technology, and it's a story about a particular moment here in Baltimore, and two artists who have teamed up to reflect it. It's a story about Life and Chaos -- literally. That's the name that Peter Tak and Kamesh Manigeetha have given their joint artistic endeavor. They don’t consider it a business (they aren’t quitting their day jobs), but nonetheless they are all in for a joint effort that is all about Baltimore.

FEEDBACK AT CAFES
The installation of artwork on the facade is not the end of the story, it's the beginning. So let's start there. It's the cartoon-like exterior of 4 stars rated (on Yelp) Kong Pocha (12 W 20th St), a new Koreatown pub already renowned for its late-night (Korean/ Asian fusion) treats. This seemed like the perfect place to talk to Love and Chaos, because it’s also their workspace. Though, it's only one of a long list. Kamesh and Peter told us that, rather than being bothered, when someone starts opining about their work (in mid-design), while coffee-drinking in a Core café, they like the feedback. So they also work at the Socle complex (Sophomore Coffee, Fadensonnen, etc. ) in Charmingtons, R House, Sweet 27, and when they want more privacy in their apartments (in our Charles Village and Remington neighborhoods), as well as (in off-hours, by permission of their boss) at their day jobs at OVFX animation studio, run by Trevor Pryce.

POISONOUS FROGS AND PROBOWLERS
This is where Life and Chaos met, so let’s take a little detour to explain OVFX first. We’re talking about the same Trevor Pryce who went to the Pro Bowl and starred for The Ravens, then went on to write the Kulipari Series (the saga of an elite group of poisonous frogs who battle against spell-casting spiders and fearsome Scorpions). As the frogs moved from print to screen, Pryce became a producer of the Kulipari Netflix series (originally animated in Canada), and it was this experience that led him to start his own animation studio here in the south end of The Core on the MICA campus. OVFX is committed to making films in Baltimore and marketing them to major West Coast outlets like Netflix. Baltimore’s location is key to tapping into the immense talent pool of young artists being produced on the East Coast of the U.S., starting (of course) with MICA, where Peter had recently graduated from. Kamesh recently graduated from SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), a school in Georgia, whose animation program is internationally renowned.

INSTANTANEOUS BOND OR HIDDEN HISTORY?
When the two met on the job 3 months ago, they had an almost instantaneous bond, as if they already knew each other. Then a month later they realized that in a way, they did know each other, because for a year they had been fans of each others’ work on Art Station (a platform for animators ) and Linkedin. Nonetheless, it’s amazing how quickly their partnership was launched, because the two come from vastly different backgrounds. Though they both began their journeys to The Core in Asia, they started from two countries that are more than 5000 miles apart (Korea and India), and each had different stops along the way. Peter (23) came to the US, as a tween, landing in San Jose, California. While Kamesh (30) wasn’t stateside until he arrived at SCAD over 5 years ago.

DIFFERENT PATHS TO THE CORE
Peter’s life could be seen as a straight track to Life and Chaos – animation and design are his lifelong ambitions and he got started early, getting his first professional assignment when he was 16. He came to Baltimore five years ago and has been working for OVFX since he graduated Mica earlier this year. Kamesh (who joined Baltimore and OVFX 3 months ago) also was entranced by animation at an early age, when as a child he sat spellbound in a Chennai (India) movie theater watching the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, only to discover that they were piece artistic imagination, rather than were living creatures. But his passion for animation was a dream deferred. First he had to escape the rough part of Chennai his family lived in. Education was his ticket out. With help from Prashanth Manigeetha, (his older brother), Kamesh pushed past dyslexia and got both a BCA in Computer science in 2010, and a Masters in E-Business in 2013 (both at Universities in Chennai, India). It wasn’t until attending SCAD (where he graduated in 2017) that he received formal training in animation.

TWO UPCOMING FILMS ABOUT BALTIMORE
Though both are animators, Peter’s focus is 2-D, while Kamesh specializes in 3-D. So, each is able to contribute their greatest talents to Life and Chaos, without any overlap. But when you talk to them, you get the feeling there is something driving their back and forth that is not just adding skills together, but multiplying them. It seems like each one’s ideas serves as a springboard for the other’s. But perhaps more important than their synchronistic differences is what they share – a joint passion for animation, inspiration by Baltimore, and a dazzling amount of energy. Post Kong Pocha façade, they’ve launched into 2 films. First of all there’s “Gappo” which is authored by Peter and is inspired by trips to the Druid Hill Park Zoo. The story concerns animals that are putting one over on humans that underestimate them. “Boundaries,” authored by Kamesh, was triggered by parallels he saw between economically challenged parts of Baltimore and his own background in Chennai. Its theme is – overcoming the boundaries that those kinds of circumstances can impose. We’ve included some of their amazing graphics in this post, and more are available on the Life and Chaos Patreon site https://www.patreon.com/lifeinchaos.

THE CORE -- 21ST CENTURY TECH HUB
When extolling Charm City’s virtues, local boosters don’t often talk about it being a city that is pulling in newcomers off the information superhighway, and inspiring them to use cutting edge technology to create new forms of art, ala Life and Chaos. But it turns out that (just as much as the beautifully preserved ancient architecture that we all love) this is a part of 21st Century Charm City – and it’s a welcome part, indeed.

Only in The Core, keep exploring!

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