Dave Berg (b.1981) graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2013, after which he has made live-action films as well as shorter computer animations. Dark themes, intensity and poetic narration are typical for his art. Berg tells us he also wants to examine the absurdity of present-day conversational culture. We discussed a few of his shorts as well as the controversial topics behind them.
Dave Berg began making films in the art school, where he later also got involved with computer animation. “In 2012, I wanted to make a video, where I wanted to film a long take with one of the characters running,” the artist explains. “I looked for a way to make it happen with the resources we had, out of a pick-up truck or something. Eventually, I couldn’t think of a sensible way to do it, so it turned into a car ride that I made with a green screen.”
What came out of necessity turned into an interest: “That’s where it began, when I realized all the things I could make if I got a better hold of the medium.”
More recently Berg has also used the new medium of virtual reality to create art works. “I made a VR work with the first version of Oculus Rift, it was displayed in Kluuvi’s gallery,” Berg says. VR technology is constantly developing, and the possibilities for its use seem to be endless. “For me, personally, I am perfectly fine with VR the way it is right now. As long as someone can be bothered to go through the trouble to make it as refined and optimised as possible,” the artist states. “Even if its possibilities are limited, there’s a huge amount of things to take into account. It’s rare to see something that’s really polished to the last detail, I think that’s enough.”
Berg divides his films into two categories: “Some are longer, narrative and very cinematic, similar to drama films. The others are shorter animations, that are carried by the music and sound design, absent of dialogue or a specific plotline.” Most of his films can, however, be read into as commentary on society and the world.
Berg’s Monsters Live Here (2015) is a computer animated work starring the Monster, a smug suit-wearing character. In a long monologue, the Monster recites pseudoscientific facts that are blatantly misogynist and racist.
“The idea began from an observation of the impossibility of conversational culture, where no one is able to actually hear what the other person has to say,” Berg elaborates. The Monster’s hateful mindset is one of someone who is set in their ways and own opinions. “I think the text is so over-the-top, but it’s still the kind of text you can find on the internet, without even searching for long. The text is there in similar versions.”
For the viewer, the Monster’s words seem unreal and disgusting. “I’m not sure when the idea reveals itself to each viewer, or if it even does reveal the absurdity of itself. But if you didn’t believe that people were ready to see things in the way you see them, you couldn’t do anything, ever.”
Many of Berg’s films have dark and intensive tones. Berg tells us his films often feed off each other and he makes them at the same time, using similar images in multiple films. God Rot Their Souls (2016) uses the same imagery seen in Monsters Live Here, this time without dialogue. “The content is in the imagery and in the atmosphere,” the artist says. The work is an example of a work carried out by the visuals and sounds instead of dialogue.
Paradise (2017) continues with the same subject matter behind Monsters Live Here: “In Monsters Live Here, there’s one character with one outlook on the world. And it’s a very scary, monster-like outlook. In Paradise there are four characters, who also switch roles from time to time. So basically, there’s more people on the receiving end of the hateful ranting.” Paradise takes the idea of conversational difficulty further by examining four different characters, each equally set in their ways and incapable of listening to the others.
The Weight (2017) has no dialogue, but it shows the same imagery as seen in Paradise. “In Paradise, there’s the preacher of the end of the world preaching about economic religion, trying to get people to shout about the economy and the disappearance of humanity, before the world starts breaking down,” Berg describes. In The Weight, we see fish falling from the sky and filling the world. Buildings start crumbling to pieces and burning. “It’s the desperate falling apart of the earth.”
Berg is a part of the LunaFilms cooperative, which recently had an exhibition in Forum Box. Berg was taking part along with other LunaFilms artists Joakim Pusenius, Juhani Koivumäki and Paula Saraste. Each artist displayed their own video works. Berg’s contribution was his new work, The Great Beauty of Forgetting, a short film on the will to forget all that in a human screams the loudest to be heard. “I’ve invested in making the animation as refined as possible, to make sure the image and its atmosphere carry the work. The content of my future works will largely be concentrated on the aesthetics”, the artist states.
In the future, Berg wants to continue with 3D animation: “I work with 3D a lot. Next I want to become better at animating faces, and move towards longer, narrative things with animation.”