David O’reilly’s Animated Worlds are Filled with Existentialist Horses and Sad Robots

The Irish animator behind the video game in ‘Her’ talks online subcultures and 'Adventure Time.'

by Dean Kissick
Oct 10 2018, 1:15pm

In David O'Reilly's latest animation, The Horse Raised By Spheres, a crudely rendered horse stands to the side of a meadow and laments, "I haven't spoken to a soul in months, weeks… Oh such thoughts are poison on the mind!" Bravely he resolves to approach a drove of horses across the meadow and when he does, well, the film's cryptic title explains itself. This horse also has its own online world, which is a sort of interactive puzzle through which other short films can be unlocked. Like many animators, David is interested in cartoon violence, but in his case this encompasses not only slapstick but also emotional, political, and social violence. The resulting stories are heartstring-tuggingly beautiful and thoughtful, and very, very funny.

Most likely you've already seen his work in the video game sequences of Spike Jonze's Her, or in his own video-game-slash-philosophical-planet-simulator Mountain , or in the glitchy 3D-animated episode of Adventure Time that he directed. But if you're yet to watch his own films, you're in for a rare treat. Just turned 30, David hails from Kilkenny, Ireland, and now runs his own independent animation studio in downtown Los Angeles, with panoramic views over the bustling streets below. It's there that I found myself knocking on his door.

What brought you to downtown Los Angeles?
I moved here when I had just arrived. Downtown was a risk, and there were a lot of buildings really hungry for tenants, especially young people. There's a lot of activity here on the street and that attracted me. I was moving from Berlin, which in many ways is kind of an opposite city, a very quiet place with a lot of big, open streets. When I came down here I just liked the amount of chaos that was happening when you step outside. Four years later I'm still here despite the stench of piss and shit and whatever else in the air.

I notice your studio's very empty, with no storyboards or pictures on the wall.
I just moved in here recently, so I'm still getting it together. But most of the creativity happens on the screen and in hard drives. 3D is an interesting process, it's a drama that takes place really in the virtual space. In another lifetime I would be wearing rags and there would be broken canvases all over the place; now everything takes place in the computer.

Read the full story on i-D.

adventure time
David O' Reilly
GARAGE robot day