by Mridu SahaiFeb 12, 2020
Extra (DE) /ˈɛkstrə/
Adjective. Being more than what is usual or expected.
Weg (DE) /ve:k/
Noun. A road, a direction, a (physical or conceptual) path from one place to another.
In a brief animation titled Angry, by the German artist Oliver Latta aka Extraweg, the viewer is confronted by an image of the lower half of a dark silver face, as it grinds and chatters its teeth. The video is accompanied by the sound of multiple voices as they speak on top of each other in protestation. These voices seem to emanate from the upper incisors of the large face, carved to resemble four human heads as they grimace, to lament the movement of the face that beats them against the lower jaw. The morbid animation creates a sense of visceral discomfort that is further enunciated each time it repeats the same actions again and again, auto-played by the Instagram interface.
“I have always been a creative person, but it took me a while to discover how to channel all that imagination. It was after studying physiotherapy that I decided to give a 180 degree change to my life and enrol in the Bauhaus University in Dessau, Germany, to study design. From there, everything has been happening very naturally in my career,” says Latta, as he describes his journey in the field of motion design and media art till now. “From a very young age, I have been a great photography enthusiast and shortly after I began to edit images and videos, I realised that the audio-visual world was at times somewhat limited. That's when I started to become interested in 3D Motion Design and discovered its endless creative possibilities. What I really love about motion graphics and animation is the creative freedom that I have - where the only limits are set by imagination itself,” he adds.
Speaking about the kind of influences that drive his artistic practice, Latta maintains how everyday situations serve as a constant source of inspiration for his videos. “There is a certain kind of social criticism in each publication, but they do not correspond to specific facts. I enjoy playing with common situations and presenting them in an ambiguous and uncomfortable way. For me, it is not important to focus on the content too much in one direction because I seek to agitate the spectator and force them to think for themselves. They must find their own explanation to what they are seeing,” informs Latta.
Latta describes his approach as one that concerns itself with the fundamental aspects of aesthetic, story and technique, which lay the groundwork for his animations. “I always try to make something aesthetically strong in terms of colour, lighting and composition, and there must also be a powerful message or story to tell. As for the technique, I try to make every video a challenge in itself,” explains the artist. Thematically, Latta concerns himself with what it means to be human, evaluating and reproducing behaviours or situations to provoke emotions that his audience can relate to. “My art expresses the emotions and struggles of the society it exists within and inspires people to cope and even overcome”.
To a great extent, Latta credits Instagram for the successes of Extraweg, highlighting the sheer diversity of the audience involved. The platform has played an instrumental role in confirming the artist’s decision of opening his design studio, from where he conducts a variety of businesses, from commercial requests for projects to lectures/talks and even to him doing this interview. Besides being a space for exhibition, Instagram has also helped encourage a dialogue between Latta and his audience, as millions of views and followers bring with them important feedback in the form of comments and emails.
Currently, Latta is working on upcoming exhibitions in Viborg (Denmark), Krakow (Poland), and Saint Petersburg (Russia). He is also working on a series of introductions for a well-known streaming platform, while also collaborating with a fashion brand on Extraweg merchandise products.