A whelk is a carnivorous sea snail, but you won’t find any of those in “Whelk Song,” an animated music video inspired by the art of indigenous Australian people.
The video was created by motion graphic designer Elsa Secco and her partner, art director and motion designer Jonathan Guyader, and set to music by Geoffrey Secco. The latter composed the song during a trip to Australia that apparently included “shamanic experiences.”
Based in Sydney, but natives of France, the artists researched aboriginal art to understand it before they created their homage. It incorporates aesthetic elements of dot painting, a style that developed in the 20th century, when aboriginal artists began to translate their works from temporary drawings in the sand to permanent abstractions in acrylic.
The dots helped to conceal the meaning of traditional symbols from non-indigenous people, like Geoffrey Bardon, the art teacher who encouraged children in the indigenous community of Papunya to paint with traditional symbols. In 1972, students and community members of Papunya founded the artist cooperative Papunya Tula, popularizing dot painting worldwide.
“Whelk Song” also riffs on Australian aboriginal body painting, a deeply spiritual, yet also creative practice used for ritual purposes. Designs are highly symbolic, representing social position, tribal affiliation, and ancestry. Clearly, the video abstracts the symbolic elements down to their aesthetic markers for a jazzy, trippy, amusing little jaunt.
Watch the whole video for “Whelk Song” below.