Auden wrote his thesis on Russian surrealism, welded bicycles, and made sculpture (e.g. this box).
Photo by Matt D'Annunzio
Hometown: Andover, Massachusetts
Advisers: Prof. Lena Lencek [Russian 1977–] and Prof. Gerri Ondrizek [art 1994–]
Thesis: “Surreal Returns”
What it’s about: The written portion of my thesis discusses two surreal Russian animations: Andrei Khrzhanovsky’s “The Glass Harmonica” (1968) and Igor Kovalyov’s “Hen, His Wife” (1989). For the studio portion I made a Claymation with extended camera movements and a technique involving multiple green screens.
What it’s really about: Trying to make with one hand and break apart with the other.
Who I was when I got to Reed: I came to Reed planning to do art; I did not expect to get into animation. That was a complete surprise. I also got interested in Russian; it’s a beautiful language and the literature is great. The interdisciplinary major allowed me to pursue both interests.
Influential book: The Days are Just Packed (Calvin and Hobbes) by Bill Watterson. Until I was in high school, I pretty much exclusively read Calvin and Hobbes.
Favorite spot: The new pit of the library between 5 and 6 a.m. during finals week; the sky glowing in that large window on the south side is the only evidence that time is still passing.
Random thoughts: At Reed everything is very compressed and there were times when I actively felt the way I think changing. You’re forced to reconsider things at such a rapid pace that not just your beliefs change, but also the way you form those beliefs.
Cool stuff I did: Spent freshman year in the ceramics studio, sophomore year studying abroad in Saint Petersburg, junior year welding bikes and brewing beer, and senior year leading and making things with Russian House.
How Reed changed me: I was just as skeptical coming to Reed as I am now. But in some ways that skepticism is now more pointed. I’ve learned how to analyze things and approach problems in a more direct way rather than just with vague doubt.
Scholarships, awards, or financial aid: Locher Summer Creative Scholarship.
Something I would tell prospies: The best things at Reed are the teachers. The most fun I’ve had was in the Reed library. It’s rewarding when you get into a paper and it starts to write itself.
What’s next: I’m going to New Mexico to make some art.
Thesis expanded: For the most part, Russian surreal animation is late Soviet, the late ’80s into the ’90s. When I first saw some of these animations, it was baffling. I was able to spend a year trying to figure out something that made absolutely no sense to me. It was weird uncovering and then trying to integrate that knowledge into something else. The fact that the thesis process is self-motivated is significant. It’s a daunting process trying to figure out what you are interested in, but you learn a lot on a large project like that.
Video by Tony Moreno