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New international project:
"Mechanical Figures - twentythousandcycles.NET"
Experimental interactive movie inspired by
Nikola Tesla


- About the Project -




Our new project, experimental interactive film "Mechanical Figures - twentythousandcycles.NET" is inspired by Nikola Tesla. ( If you want to learn more about Tesla, please visit this page...)
The project first of all questions and reinvestigates the film as a form of art which is today more and more consumed through handheld and mobile devices, as well as the Internet, which raises a question what kind of film can truly entertain and content a contemporary consumer.


With this project we will try to approach this question, and our goal is to create an interactive film in the real meaning of the word. We chose Tesla as our subject, not only because of his intriguing and interesting persona, but also because he was an inspiration to many artists in general, and in film in particular. For that reason we interviewed famous artists and creative individuals like Terry Gilliam, Andy Serkis, Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramovic, Christopher Priest, Douglas Rushkoff, and their thoughts will be our origin for creation of a peculiar and distinctive story about the creativity and technology. (More information about the interviewed artists is available here...)
The project's main idea is to try to explore and reconstruct the creative process in the mind of a genius, to reconstruct the labyrinthine path of creativity that is happening from an idea to the final outcome.

The project will be multidimensional. The final goal is to create a short animated film (stop motion animation combined with video and drawing) of about 30 minutes, which is made in HD and will be suitable for theatrical screening and broadcasting, and which at the same time serves as a core of the interactive version suitable for mobile and handheld devices and the Internet, which will be composed of about fifty short interactive film stories about creativity inspired by Tesla, and serve as a starting point that will encourage other artists to join the project and continue to build stories on the Internet. The short video clips will be connected to the main film with the aim to create interactive content suitable for devices such as iPod/iPhone, mobiles, Internet...

Gala in Whakatane, NZ

Visually attractive content will also be published as a collection of 16 art books, where each book will also contain its corresponding story a DVD. The books will be created in an unusual way, as a result of work on technologically more innovative form of interactive film, and the development of ideas in the process of creating of the fist form will open space for their reinterpretation in a seemingly simple but specially poetic medium - the book. The story about boundaries and ranges of human creativity will be told through photo stories made by 3 very interesting photographers - Mare Milin, Alistair Keddie and Boris Cvjetanović.
After three years of intensive work on gathering of the materials, the project has reached its final phase. We have already filmed most of the materials on different locations around the world related to Tesla's life and work, from Croatia to Budapest, Belgrade Paris, London, most of all New York, and even New Zealand and Japan. We have filmed most of about 30 planned interviews, and in 2010 we plan to finish filming at Niagara Falls, Colorado Springs and New York City, to interview remaining creative individuals whose thoughts about Tesla we want to share, and to finalize our quest for the new film form of the future.

Bryant Park, NYC, Jan 2006

The international project team are:

  • Helena Bulaja (Croatia) - project author, writer, main director, producer
  • Alistair Keddie (Scotland) - co-director, photography, editing, animation
  • Edgar Beals (Canada) - co-director, photography, animation
  • Christian Biegai (Germany) - co-director, music, sound design
  • Mare Milin (Croatia) - photography
  • Blaž Habuš (Croatia) - animation, editing, sound design
  • Dea Jagić (Croatia) - animation, illustration
  • Sabina Hahn (USA) - animation, sculpture, design, performer
  • Marla Hansen (USA) - voice narration
  • Joshua Sternlicht (USA) - cinematographer
  • Stuart Page (New Zealand) - cinematographer, editing
  • Hrvoje Manz (Croatia) - programming, apps development
  • Petar Grimani (Croatia) - performer
  • Boris Cvjetanović (Croatia) - photography
  • Josipa and Marijana Bronić (Croatia) - costume design, performers
  • Simona Antonović (Croatia) - make-up artist

Gala Flying, NYC

from the film "Mechanical Figures"


More Details...

The systems of work on the project will be similar to our previous award-winning project "Croatian Tales of Long Ago", with international collaborators that are coordinated through the Internet, meeting and working together in Zagreb and on filming locations...

The project consists of three complementary media forms...

  • "Mechanical Figures - twentythousandcycles.NET" - interactive film
  • "tesla_Visionary Thoughts" - Web site
  • "BuHaBi Jabberwocky" - screening / performance

... that make up a whole - a documentary experimental interactive story about Nikola Tesla. Each of the 3 segments deals with a different aspect of the story, so the Web pages are not just a classic Web site but a supplement to the film. The film is the main content generator for the other two forms. The performance is a specially directed film projection, a cycle of interactive film screenings with live performed music, adapted to the space in which they happen.

Sabina Hahn, NYC, Jan 2006

from the film "Mechanical Figures"


   "Mechanical Figures - twentythousandcycles.NET"

      (interactive film)

The main idea is to try to reconstruct, using the innovative form of interactive film, the creative process that is happening between an idea and the final outcome.
In spite of the fact that they are also an independent form, the film stories also serve as a frame and a starting point for the content available on the project's Web, with an idea of constant expansion and growth.
The stories are inspired by the interviews with acclaimed artists and creative people whom Tesla inspired, who devoted some of their works to Tesla, who were inspired by his personality, or who simply got connected to Tesla's life in their work and career by accident. The interviews are generators of the stories, associative sparks of the scripts.
Because of extreme complexity of Tesla, our main inspiration and main subject of the project, after years of research and thinking we decided to simultaneously develop the project on several conceptual and creative levels, where documentary facts from his time and life will be taken not necessarily as the only truth about him, but more like guidelines with the purpose of bringing to the surface more metaphorical and inspirational side of his work, that make Tesla a sort of creative and inspirational generator for various creative individuals who are shaping our intellectual and creative landscape today. Also, documentary elements are used as an indirect basis for questioning the film as a medium, for creating of new film forms that rise because of the expansion of digital handheld small screen devices, and computer game aesthetics, which is in the past years more and more becoming a legitimate element of feature films.

Mechanical Figures

So, the film is triggered by the interviews with artists and creative people whom Tesla inspired or who find him interesting in any other way, like Laurie Anderson, experimental performance artist and musician, Marina Abramovic, famous performance artist, Terry Gilliam, film director, Douglas Rushkoff, the cyber-culture theoretician, writer Christopher Priest, scientist Hiroshi Matsumoto, and many other... The purpose of the interviews is to be a kind of inspirational starters for the stories.

Filming on locations started in New York City in January 2006, and continued in Croatia, Budapest, Belgrade, London, Colorado Springs, New Zealand, Japan... (The news about the project development and filming are available here...)
With the idea of interactive film as one of the main elements of this experimental movie project, we first of all have in mind the creation of a new art form suitable for screening and use on digital handheld and mobile devices with limited size screen, that requires completely different approach to the visual aspect of the film that is nowadays more and more consumed using devices like iPod and iPhone, PSP, mobile phones...
Playing with time and creation of a timeless film form is also one of the principal goals of the project, and in this segment we are exploring the possibility of creation of a new form of interactive film, which must be different from video, multimedia and hypertext content created in the way that is common on the Internet today.

Mechanical Figures

Due to the complexity of the project idea and the story we want to create, as a main film language we are using a combination of several techniques. So in the final project you will find almost everything: digital compositing of computer generated 2D & 3D animation, digital video and classic film footage, traditional and digital photography, and non-digital animation techniques like stop motion, pixilation and drawn frame-by-frame animation...



  "tesla_Visionary Thoughts"

      (Web site)

The working title of the Web page is "tesla_Visionary_Thoughts". and the URL of it is www.twentythousandcycles.net.

The content will be organized an imaginative "warehouse" of ideas, links and facts that can, when related to one of the "stories" about Tesla, open innumerous possibilities of interpretation, and that can, with real links to other Web pages and Web sites, give the possibility of multiple and open "endings". The site will try to encourage the visitor to further exploration and re-creating of the specific association chain that occurs in scientific thinking and any other form of creation. The visitors will be able to change the stories by adding their own links, graphics, photographs, music, sounds, videos, and to create new stories, which will result in constant change and growth.

Web Trailer



   "BuHaBi Jabberwocky"
      (screening / performance)

During the course of research of how ideas are created in the mind of a scientist, by visualizing the associative chain stirred by the various inspirational impulses, by investigating the possibilities of various media convergence, mixing fiction and reality, we will try to transfer the "wizardry" of Nikola Tesla to visually attractive, stimulating and inspiring series of meta-stories. This part of the project will include reinterpretation and setting up of the materials made for the film and the Web in the real space, in a form which is unique and distinctive with each performance. We want to evoke the atmosphere of Tesla's laboratory, where time stopped and the space was filled with the magic of Tesla's visionary inventions.

A series of interactive film screenings / performances, that will include live performance of the film music, with the working title "Jabberwocky", will be result of several years of collaboration of the international trio of artists Helena Bulaja, Blaž Habuš and Christian Biegai in creation of distinctive and inspiring films of the new era, made through fusion of classical and digital world in both image and sound.

This new / old collaboration of the "BuHaBi" trio brings an innovative approach to the traditional film screening, deconstructing it by means of scene performance and live act.

Mechanical Figures

from "Mechanical Figures"

In simple words, the film material (video clips, music, sound, narration...) is adapted in accordance to the real space, creating a living scenery for a special audio-visual happening. Instead of a simple linear projection on a single film screen, the film image is turned into a kaleidoscopic show, projected on different surfaces and textures, while the film music, sound and acting are performed live. It can be said that it is a multimedia theater performance, but with something specific: the "program" is scenographically and temporally adopted to the specific nature of each different space, and each performance, although seemingly fluid and open form, is actually an unique and deliberative act of artistic creation of space with the film story.

The main idea of this "spatial/3D" film projection is to put the observer in the center of the film, and to give her or him an active role in the film story, with the goal to introduce the observer to a metaphor of emotional "film space" transferred to the real space of the event, and where the simple linear film story is just one of many possible.

By traveling not only through time and space of Tesla's creations, this final part of the project will also be the closing of our traveling through the various media.

Radio Bulbs

from "Mechanical Figures"




We started to work on "Mechanical Figures" project in 2005, and it will be released in different forms in 2010.

The project is sponsored by "Adris" Foundation, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Croatian Audio-Visual Centre, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, Zagreb City Council for Culture and Split City Council.

You have some ideas and you would like to join us in this adventure? Just email to Helena (helena@bulaja.com).




  Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla's Lightning
Columbian Expo - Tesla's City of Light
Nikola Tesla - Colorado Springs
Nikola Tesla
Tesla's Radio Patent
Nikola Tesla
Mark Twain in Tesla's Lab
Tesla's Letter about Aliens
Tesla's Dove
Tesla's Flying Fiwer
Tesla's Menu for Pigeons
Wardenclyfe Tower on Long Island