Helmut Breineder is an Art Director and Motion Designer currently based in Berlin. He narrates his first experience with film making which formed while growing up in a tiny village in Austria where his parents owned a family hotel. It was at the age of 6 when he had the chance to participate in a few episodes of a TV series that were shot in the surrounding villages close by his family’s hotel which was rented by the film crew as their base.
Initially he thought it was pretty awesome as he would end up skipping school to be on set with some actors, but he knew this “definitely sparked an interest in film making early on”. His passion for film making has brought him to being known for his distinct artistic expressions and a range of collaborations with BMW, EXPO, Mercedes, Intersport to name a few.
It is intriguing to see how Helmut reflects the shattering effect of materialism in our everyday lives through his moving forms. He exhibits a sense of social awareness through his art that speaks directly of the concerns relating to consumerism. “It is destroying our environment.” he expresses.
“As I am very much intolerant towards intolerance, and believe that empathy towards others, religion, gender and sexual orientation and environmental awareness are the most important things, those are subjects I would like to communicate in future projects.”
Looking at his artworks, you cannot help but step back in awe. Curious to learn more about the man behind it all, MiND talked to Helmut. He has given us an inside look into his life, experiences and influences.
From quitting the university halfway in Salzburg to shoot and project videos at parties in Bricklane, can you walk us through your background?
As a teenager I enjoyed making music and recording funny Hi videos with friends. I decided to study Multimedia in Salzburg, but halfway through moved to London, doing various film related workshops. At the same time, inspired by the Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer, I started creating stop motion videos which I showcased working as a VJ in East London. After digging deeper into softwares like After Effects my work became more digital, and I developed a deeper interest in manipulating moving images mixed with graphic elements.
Back in Vienna I got a job as a film editor after which I decided to move to Sao Paulo to shoot my own independent documentary on Japanese immigration in Brazil. I ended up living there for over 10 years, working as a motion designer.
Wearing Things / Porter des Choses by Helmut Breineder
Shooting your own independent documentary in Brazil where you lived for 10 years, how much influence does Brazil have on your style?
I had an incredibly precious and intense time in Brazil. I grew closer to my friends and people I met, which made me feel at home. No other place taught me so many essential lessons of life.
I consider myself very lucky to have been there from 2001 to 2012, which was a super positive period for the country, in terms of fighting against social inequality during the times of President Lula.
Brazil is such an amazing melting pot of cultures, and one can absorb a variety of inspiration and influences. It definitely had a big impact on my character, and consequently on my style which is also a reflection of my personality.
Is there any specific country/city that you consider inspiring?
I find inspiration in every place I’ve visited. Even though I find big cities like Sao Paulo, London, New York, and Berlin very inspiring, I prefer beautiful calm or rough landscapes, especially the ones that aren’t crowded, so you don’t feel like a tourist, but rather an individual being able to connect and observe the beauty and power of nature.
Your artworks are strangely unsettling yet at the same time attractive. How would you describe your works?
Usually I create aesthetic imagery with a slightly dark sense of humour and a touch of weirdness. Through this I try to achieve a multilayered sensation, somewhere between joy, wonder, curiosity, desire but also anxiety or disgust.
And obviously people respond to it differently – someone who shares my sense of humour tends to find it less unsettling, whilst others don’t find it funny at all and feel repelled.
Personally I am quite surprised at how fast people feel unsettled by something playful, while considering other things totally normal that I find deeply unsettling.
For some of my works I have a fair idea of what it’s going to be and how it will feel like, but in other cases I work rather spontaneously in order to leave scope for experimentation. Sometimes randomness and coincidence turn out to be surprisingly great.
“Wearing Things”, reminds me of a Milan Kundera novel: “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” due to the constant criticism of the world we are living in, reflected in your artworks. How do you want the viewers to feel when they see your work?
Ha, nice one!
I read that book around 20 years ago and loved it, but did not intentionally relate my film to it. Not sure how much of this is being communicated through my artwork, but I do think capitalism went completely nuts, and consumerism on the current level is obviously destroying our environment.
In my short “Wearing Things“, there is a sense of exaggerated materialism, and a feeling of weight from overconsumption, even though it looks funny.
"Making viewers laugh while provoking new thoughts and fighting against habits and routines that make everything look dull, is more or less what I am aiming for."
Who or what is the biggest influence on your art?
I don´t know which is the biggest, but the influence comes from many places.
A major source of course are simply personal experiences, and other than that it’s from cinema, art, nature, music, photography, technology, philosophy and long deep conversations with friends.
What makes a piece of art ‘provocative’?
It can be provocative in various ways. For example by acting as a mirror of our times, by making people think and therefore creating dialogues, by dismantling power, breaking with taboos and confronting what people think is normal.
What do you feel is art’s role in society?
I think it helps us to see, appreciate and wonder about the beauty of objects, moments, nature where habits and routine made things look dull. Like a tool against familiarity that makes people recognise how exceptional things actually are, or can be. Art can recover the curiosity we had as children and redefine how we perceive things, but it can also act as a force for political and social protest.
All your works are beautifully intriguing. However, which one of them do you most identify with?
There is no single piece where I could say to identify most, but if I have to name something anyway its maybe “Pheromone“, because I think it has some pretty funny weirdness and at the same time asks some basic questions that I ask myself constantly:
"Why do we do what we do, what is the force behind our actions, what drives us, what do we want, how much do we know ourselves?"
Pheromone by Helmut Breineder
What are the projects that you are currently working on?
A commercial project for a studio in Berlin, some experimental short clips for a fashion brand, and I’m planning to work on an animation short if time allows it.