Interview: Anti-CGI Instagram’s Mysterious Curator

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Anti_cgi is an Instagram account dedicated to “gore, practical effects, atmosphere and anything that involves offbeat sexual innuendo,” according to its covert conservator, Aramis Gutierrez II. A painter, fine art administrator and self-professed film industry “tourist,” Gutierrez curates a provocative montage of international film art that is so delightfully insubordinate, it’s hard to believe it’s permissible.  Largely NSFW, anti_cgi showcases the charged and timeless –isms that audiences and critics have long-clamored to police: hedonism, satirism, aestheticism, escapism, romanticism, racism, naturalism, modernism, fatalism, materialism, sexism…

Faithful to his “freaky shit,” Aramis Gutierrez indulges us with his selection process, how sexist censorship has shaped his account’s ‘breast v. dong’ ratio, and his thoughts on the magic of storytelling through practical effects in an otherwise computer-generated hellscape.

tales-of-halloween
Tales of Halloween (2015)

CINEMA THREAD: How do you describe anti_cgi  in real life?

ARAMIS GUTIERREZ: I’m a painter, so my primary concern is image generation.  I use a lot of cinematic material for my paintings, so these images are a result of my research.  I am always hunting for activated images with “built-in” mysteries, regardless of the source film’s narrative. These [anti_cgi’s] mysterious images are intrinsically familiar but have something generously open-ended about them.  I believe this type of image making used to thrive in painting and [that] at some point during the dawn [of] Modernism and the reductive trends that followed, [was] re-established prominently in cinema.  

 

CT: The diversity of anti_cgi’s content is killer, what’s the common denominator for you as a curator?

AG: There are a few common denominators: gore, practical effects, atmosphere and anything that involves offbeat sexual innuendo (especially people on other people in monkey suits or real monkeys).  I am always interested in what other people feel is grey or taboo.  I know it when I see it.

Conquest of The Planet of The Apes (1972)
Conquest of The Planet of The Apes (1972)

CT: There are traces of CGI (computer generated effect) in your content. Do purists ever try to talk shit?

AG: Purists are always going to talk shit.  I could care less if my posts fit comfortably into someone else’s box. I do sometimes break my own or other’s assumed rules to derail monotony or to satiate my own trollish desires.


CT: Has Instagram ever censored the gore, violence, defecation, or nudity in your posts? What are your thoughts about censorship?

AG: Yes, unfortunately, I too am the victim of puritanical and patriarchal Instagram censors.  I guess I’m grateful that they’ve never suspended me for regularly overstepping their mostly generous policies.  You see I’m horrible at self-filtering and I’m often so overcome by the normative transgressions of subversive media that the possibility of something so innocent and playful as a duck with mammalian breasts (Howard the Duck) being considered as offensive simply escapes me.  

Now, due to sexist selective censoring, I reign over an account where the ratio of exposed breasts vs. dongs and other bodily unpleasantries is woefully unbalanced. People are going to think I am biased!!!  

necronomicon-1994
Necronomico (1994)

CT: As your account gains popularity, how has the maintenance of your anonymity been affected?

AG: Every once in awhile someone figures out that I’m that guy and after a momentary pause comes the awkward discussion of whether or not I am really into gory movies and “freaky shit.”  A lot of family members and people in the art world have told me that my account is too scary for them.  Though their words are hurtful, it’s better this way.

 

CT: Do fans reach out hoping to get a peek of the man behind the curtain?

AG: All the time.  It’s usually movie nerds, people who think I work in cinema, an angry CGI artist trying to reason with me, or curious single women.


CT: Conversationally, I’ve described anti_cgi as an obscure film catalogue, where one can score a bit of cinematic street-cred. Do you perceive anti_cgi’s content as esoteric or something for the whole family?

AG: It’s definitely a resource for the curious cinema connoisseur and often the most interesting moments exist around outliers.  That said, I try to include better-known films too because most millennials haven’t seen a lot of obviously good movies.  You can’t imagine how many times I get asked if I have heard of Holy Mountain or Videodrome.  Sigh…  I know in my heart of hearts that a lot of the content I post isn’t for “the whole family” but if you want to screen Salò or Human Centipede 2 for some of your family, who am I to judge you.  Long live the curious eye.

Faust (1994)
Faust (1994)

CT: Do you give the people what they want, or is it ‘omakase’ all day everyday?  Which kinds of posts get the most likes?

AG: I don’t do many requests and I am just not interested in posting images from whatever is trending at Hot Topic.  There are already plenty of IG accounts that cater to your Suicide Squad needs and I would feel out of depth if I were to join their ranks.  Usually, the images I find most compelling get the fewest likes, but I’m not doing this for popularity.

 

CT: I sometimes argue that those born in the height of CGI (the ones who came straight-out-the-womb texting) still manage to appropriate the nostalgia of good old-fashioned physical props. Do you think that’s because unadulterated practical effects have been reduced to cultish novelty? Or is there something else there?

AG: In all honesty, I think that practical effects, when done well, look real and thus can stir genuine emotions.  CGI at its best still feels synthetic and untrustworthy.  Zombie nostalgia aside, I think regardless of age, viewers know if something’s magical or special when they see it.  Just look at the popularity of Stranger Things.  Yes, I know the lame homunculus monster was CGI and not a crazy illusion, but the human elements and atmosphere were on point.

CGI, like any other creative tool or accent, is either the right/best solution for a given cinematic challenge or it isn’t. Unfortunately, CGI has become the dominant effect resource on many lazy filmmakers’ palettes and unlike the visionary development of practical effects from the 60s through the early 90s, CGIs progress can be measured with minor incremental increases of realism and with diminishing returns on creativity.  To make matters worse, like any new toy that is overly dependent on technology, CGI is often governed by engineers, graphic art designers or marketing strategists who probably think tired and conventional fanboy art is cool and always wanted to see what it would look like if Yoda flipped around spastically wielding a little lightsaber.

In my opinion, the age of CGI has not only eroded the quality of effects shots and the level of originality in design, it’s compromised interesting movie plots and is regularly used as a distraction for bad script continuity (A stinky glance in the direction of Prometheus).

 

CT: CGI started flirting with practical effects in the 1960’s, got to first base in the 70’s, and since achieving penetration in the 80’s, they’ve pretty much been in an arranged marriage. Do you believe the divorce rumors? (I’m trying to start some)

AG: I’d be partial to a divorce of practical effects and CGI.  I mean I thought Mas Kanada, Supreme Leader Snokes and the especially the fucking Rathtars looked particularly dated and jarringly out of place in The Force Awakens.  Ufff.

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