Designer Stephen Kelleher and animator Chris Guyot present “Mythos,” an animation that tells timeless stories–Greek myths–with simple abstract designs. Here’s how they describe this project where the ancient unexpectedly meets the modern:
For centuries the Greek Myths have been used as cautionary tales and teaching tools for people both young and old. These stories convey deep wisdom about the human condition which continue to resonate with us. I wanted to honor these ancient stories by interpreting them in the age of the pixel and gif.
The challenge was to communicate these complex stories in the most minimal way possible while retaining their essence. By having each vignette loop seamlessly, the timeless and perennial nature of these stories are reinforced. Ultimately these animations serve as visual shorthand for ancient truths which are as relevant today as they were when first told.
After numerous transgressions, Zeus decided to punish the deceitful king Sisyphus once and for all by forcing him to push a huge enchanted boulder up a steep hill. As soon as he reached the top, the boulder would roll back down to the base of the hill, condemning Sisyphus to an eternity of frustrated labor.
King Minos imprisoned Icarus in a tower alongside his father, the master craftsman Daedalus. As a means of escape Daedalus created a set of wings made of feathers and wax for his son but warned him not to fly too close to the sun. Icarus did not however heed his father’s advice. His wings dissolved and Icarus fell into the sea below and drowned.
The daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Persephone was abducted by the god of the underworld Hades. Although Zeus intervened and brought her back to the land of the living, Persephone was bound to Hades for four months of each year. In her grief, Demeter would make the soils barren thereby creating winter while Persephone’s return would mark the start of the spring.
As punishment for mortal Narcissus’ cruel treatment of the nymph Echo, he was cursed by Nemesis, the goddess of revenge. She led him to a pool where upon seeing his own reflection, he became besotted with his image and was unable to leave. Fixated, starving and in despair, he fell into the pool and drowned.
Having done a great service for the god Dionysus, King Midas was granted one wish of his choosing. He wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. Upon turning food, water and even his own daughter to gold however, he soon realized his foolishness and prayed to Dionysus to undo his wish. Dionysus took pity on King Midas and duly undid the wish.
A Greek hero of many adventures, Theseus is best known for his defeat of the Minotaur. Under the decree of King Minos, every year fourteen young Atheneans were sacrificed to the Minotaur – a monstrous half bull, half man who resided deep within the Labyrinth. Not only was Theseus able to slay the Minotaur but he also successfully escaped the complex Labyrinth, solidifying his legend.
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