For his haunting animation Unity, Tobias Stretch imagines a mysterious story of love, death, and resurrection. Set to a piece by avant-garde composer Christopher Bono, the short stop-motion film is composed of over 10,000 photographs featuring 10-foot-tall tree-like puppets with articulated limbs and soulful, human eyes. The deeply expressionistic, operatic work relies less on linear structure than on evocative mythological notions of time and change; as if underwater, Stretch’s characters move toward one another as slowly as the shifting of the seasons.
Stretch’s narrative opens with a house seemingly extracted from a forgotten painting by Vincent van Gogh; housed inside this old, rustic landscape is a lonesome man and woman who blend seamlessly with the mossy earth and bare winter trees. Hurled from their decaying Edens into the fast-paced urban present, the couple ages as autumn turns to winter, left hibernating and fossilized beneath heaps of cold, downy snow. With the help of two beings, who emerge like fairies from a glittering, primordial soup, the lovers pass from their icy deaths into blossoming breath, gasping for air and a life renewed with springtime.