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ART ATTACK

Ex-beauty queen animates metaphor for pandemic

Set in an imaginary kingdom in a virtual space, Hannah Ruth Sison’s “Portal” focuses on “a space that we also share and travel to everyday.”

A multimedia artist and a former Binibining Pilipinas winner, inspired by “the isolation, danger, and anxieties we face during the pandemic,” has channeled her art into an animation for an online project.

Set in an imaginary kingdom in a virtual space, Hannah Ruth Sison’s “Portal” focuses on “a space that we also share and travel to everyday.” It is one of the artworks featured in “To Differ, Digitally 2: Love and Dissent in the Time of Pandemic,” a digital art exhibition initiated by the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Center for Campus Art in collaboration with the DLS-CSB New Media Cluster faculty.

Sison, who has been teaching MMA as a part-time faculty at Benilde since 2010, intended “Portal” to be an allegory. “Media has been our mirror to the outside world – seeing the atrocities, being jealous of those who have it better, seeing deaths, but at the same time, it is also our portal and space to be together with loved ones and our last time to be with those who depart. It is also a portal to learn from each other and reach out to people,” she explained.

Like many Filipinos, her family has also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so working on the project felt very personal to her. “Challenging because of time, energy, and some limitations in knowledge, yet learning never stops,” the freelance multimedia artist stressed.

Sison lost one of her best friends, Mark Mijares, who is also her brother-in-law and co-faculty at Benilde. She dedicates her project to the victims of the pandemic as well as those who had to go through these hardships. She is grateful to CCA led by Architect Gerry Torres, TDD2 co-curator Karen Ocampo Flores, and NMC headed by Associate Dean Maria Sharon Mapa Arriola for making “Portal” possible.

“What was supposedly a series of intricate drawings turned out to be more simple illustrations with added music and little animation because hopefully, the story will be best shown that way. Portal, hopefully, can become a series if time and efforts persist. But it is one part for now. Succeeding parts will be produced soon,” the multimedia designer revealed.

“The story through its hidden meanings and symbolism also aims to open our eyes to the darkness and the love during this pandemic. And that despite our physical isolation, we can still be together in our own world,” she added.

Sison graduated with a degree of Multimedia Arts at Benilde and a Master of Arts in Communication Major in Applied Media Studies at De La Salle University. She is currently taking up her doctorate degree in Media Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Her research interests include the virtual, new media, and the link between media and her love for music, games, art, and others.

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Apart from teaching, she has been working as a multimedia artist for various brands, events, and companies, mostly on graphic design, photography, and illustrations. She also dabbles as a part-time model on the side, being a Binibining Pilipinas first-runner up in 2015.

Joining Sison in TDD2 are motion graphics artist and designer Yolec Homecillo, 3D artist Volty Garcia, graphic designer and writer Katrina Juane, visual communicator Vanessa Puente, visual artist Emily Mones, designer, writer and artist Brian Bringas and graphic designers Dino Brucelas and Rafael Liao, writer and designer Erika Garalde, multidisciplinary artist Teta Tulay, event consultant Mito Tubilleja, writer and content developer Penny Angeles-Tan, filmmaker and creative producer Seymour Barros Sanchez, film educator and writer Jag Garcia, photographer Jay Javier, and animator Benjie Marasigan.

TDD2 looks at the digital landscape as a platform to communicate constructive protest based on love and empathy. Aside from animation, it also features photographs, live action films, 2D and 3D models and rigs, texts, audio, applications, software, graphic design, and illustrations. The works are available at CCA’s new website (https://www.benildecampusart.com/exhibit/to-differ-digitally).

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