When you are a child, you imagine that toys and furniture come to life as soon as you look away. Freud calls this phase “magical thinking” when one half hopes and half fears that things are able to keep a secret from us.
In her short film series “Recyclers,” animation artist and sound designer Nikki Schuster takes up these thoughts and lets items culled from the trash of various metropolises dance while founding their own subculture. In the experimental photo animation absent she goes one step further and finds life where the human element has long departed: a microscopic view submerges directly into slender plastic pipes and dusty cracks in walls in vacated buildings in Spain, Bolivia, Mexico, Bosnia, Croatia, and Germany. Glistening light alternates with the black of concealed corners in the debris- and trash-filled rooms.

Schuster’s stop-motion technique assures that the cinematic gaze seems anything but human while doing this: at times it is unnaturally accelerated, other times, slowed down; sometimes it moves through the abandoned space as though the space itself were letting its perception wander. Perhaps the building yearns for its old inhabitants who upon their departure carelessly tossed the relicts of the pre-digital era into the corner. A group of magnet ribbons still makes its last rounds on the dirty concrete floor. A cigarette butt, which also failed to make the leap into the new era, is the only passenger on a rotating metal reel.
Rusty ribs of folding chairs lounge in front of the door and the plates give a tired struggle in the sink: it may well be that the future is virtual. But the world of things lives, and will outlive us all.
(Maya McKechneay)

Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt

Orig. Title
Austria, Germany, Spain, Bolivia, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia (Hrvatska)
7 min
Nikki Schuster
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
absent (Image)
absent 04 (Image)
absent 05 (Image)
Nikki Schuster
Concept & Realization
Nikki Schuster
Ignatz Bee
Sound Mix
Sebastian Müller
Fiesfilm, Nikki Schuster
Supported by
Land Oberösterreich
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
5.1 surround
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Marseille - RISC Rencontres Int. Sciences et Film
Ljubiljana Animateka - Int. Animation Film Festival
Wien - One Day Animation Festival
Regensburg - Kurzfilmwoche
Busan - Intern Short Film Festival
Linz - Crossing Europe Film Festival
Trebon - AniFest - Animation Film Festival (Best Film in the abstract and non-narrative Category)
Cork - IndieCork Film Festival
Tblisi/Batumi - TOFUZI Anim. Film Festival
Limassol - Cyrus Int. Short Film Festival
Wiesbaden - exground on screen
Lleida - Animac Animation Film Festival
Marienbad International Film Festival
Marienbad International Film Festival