International Motion Art Awards: Richard Borge's "Unknown Knows"

By David Schonauer   Thursday December 4, 2014

Two weeks ago, we spotlighted Brooklyn-based illustrator Richard Borge’s International Motion Art Awards 3-winning animation featuring a robot-like character that devours an apple—a symbol of both knowledge and nourishment. Another Borge video, which also features a mechanical character and deals with knowledge, or lack of it, was also named a winner of the competition, and we look at it today. Titled The Things We Know, the motion piece is a less a narrative than a clinking, clanking commentary on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s famous utterance about war planning and its inherent lack of certainty. While documentary filmmaker Errol Morris examined Rumsfeld’s obtuse use of political speech at length in his documentary The Unknown Known, Borge deftly sums it up in just one minute, using his overly complex tin man as metaphor for Rumsfeld’s arcane logic.


The Things We Know
Animated, Directed, and Illustrated by Richard Borge

Last summer, when he had a little time on his hands, illustrator and motion-design artist Richard Borge sat down in his studio in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and created a minute-long animation inspired by a famously foggy statement about the fog of war.

“I was listening to an interview on NPR about the documentary from Errol Morris about former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and they played the clip from the 2002 press conference where Rumsfeld talked about the things we know—and how there are ‘known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.’ And it was so weird and unusual, I decided then that I really wanted to try and use that audio for something in an animation,” says Borge.

Borge already had a lead character for his piece on hand: a mechanical man that he had created as an illustration for an art exhibition in Minnesota. As we noted in our previous look at Borge’s work, the tin man is part of a long line of strange contraptions that the artist has dreamed up over the years. But this particular clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caligenous junk was an apt metaphor for Rumsfeld and his instinct for hiding behind a curtain of wizardly language.

“I shot the character and the other materials in the piece with a Cannon 60D and composited it all in Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. The audio manipulation was all done in After Effects,” Borge says.

Borge became fascinated with motion just as digital technology—and the changing media landscape—made it a feasible creative outlet. A graduate of Concordia College in Minnesota and the University of Arizona in Tucson, he taught illustration at Western Carolina University in North Carolina for three years and then moved to New York City, where he established a studio in Manhattan in the mid 1990s. Ten years later he moved to the booming art world of Williamsburg and also took a course in After Effects at the School of Visual Arts.

“I immediately fell into it,” he says. “Since then, I have directed and animated several music videos, personal projects, ads and title sequences for films. I am interested in animation, live action, and blurring the lines between these two worlds.”





No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now

Motion Arts Pro