South Africa, Johannesburg, Turbine Art Fair 2018, 11 July 2018
The quintessential little town of Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape of South Africa has recently hosted two Ivorian residents over the past few months – Paul Sika and Jean-Luc Gosse have proved to be a wonderful addition to the familiar characters of the area. Keeping most of the community on their toes about their “big project” and why on earth they would decide to reside in the smallest of villages amongst the tight-knit community of the Riebeek Valley, the dynamic duo have finally completed the first debut of Ponguibou studio’s Transmedia production – The Boy And The Cauliflowers – first to be exhibited at Turbine Art Fair 2018 in Johannesburg from 12-15 July.
Paul Sika is previously known for his powerful storytelling through his colourful and vibrant photographs that represent various narratives of Africa in technicolour-saturation. His photographs are known to explore the impact of creativity and thought on society. Being acclaimed for his work on a worldwide platform, Paul humbly acknowledges that his role as “Paul Sika- The Photographer” has been fulfilled and is on its way to growing into something bigger than himself. Thus, the brainchild of Paul, Ponguibou and the story of The Boy And The Cauliflowers originated.
At a more personal level, Paul explains that his vision is to “dissolve” Paul Sika and form something completely new. He felt a shift, wanting to manifest a certain universe, that he had acquired when creating these evocative photographs – but what he was seeing was something much greater in a different light, he had envisioned an illustration-based world and no longer a photo-based world. This project allows Paul and his team to narrate the stories from his internal universe using a different medium altogether, incorporating his love for computers and technology with his love for art.
After having completed his studies in software engineering at the University of Westminster in the UK in 2007, Paul has shown great interest in using technology along with art in fine balance as a medium of artistic expression. Technology allowed Paul to see a dimension that he wanted to explore, recognising the realm of abilities and opportunities that this dimension offers. By means of interactive storytelling, he believes that the stories could be told in a much grander way and connect with individuals on a more intimate level. This is the form that the story of The Boy and The Cauliflowers takes – an interactive story book told through transmedia, a technique of sharing a story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Paul says, “Every medium has its potential and has its specifics, but each also has its limits – and to be able to play the symphony where every medium is like an instrument and build a coherent symphony out of them is what I have been dreaming about for a long time.”
Paul shares his vision of Ponguibou, “I have been able to see the importance of art and the importance of tech, at Ponguibou I love both. It is meant to be this company where art and tech are at equal footing, where the synergy of these two is wished for and accomplished. We will go beyond the frontier of what we know and redraw new borders that we are going to try to go beyond later – this perpetual continual growth and discovery of the most amazing thing that we can think of is definitely what is steering our book, our vision, it is at the core of it.”
Ponguibou being the brainchild of Paul, does not lift off any recognition from the exceptionally hardworking and incredibly talented team that he has assembled to execute this incredible venture. He explains so beautifully the way in which the first acquaintances with his team members evolved into their eagerness to become involved and contribute to the project and how each individual filled the roles that they essentially created, adding completely new elements to the project altogether.
The visual creation of The Boy And The Cauliflowers consists of the extraordinary artwork and illustrations by master of pen and parchment, or in the more evolved version of the saying, master of stylus and screen – Jean-Luc Gosse. Nonetheless, his meticulous work proving to build a whole new world of beauty and discovery. Jean-Luc’s style of exceptional detail in his work allows us to enter his magical world and lose ourselves within the unlimited possibilities and setting of his visual stories. His creations seem to be endless and his ability to unravel new ideas and unprecedented worlds is phenomenal. With the help of the talented colourists, Kayla Grové and Ilse Erasmus, Jean-Luc has been able to materialise his vision into another realm of colour and added new depth to the story.
To ensure a wholesome experience of the story, Paul also brought in the delightful Mariana del Carmen as the audio creator and supervisor of the story. The team worked together to create a new level of storytelling by means of sound effects and music, featuring the works of young virtuoso, Cara Paulse. By means of transmedia storytelling, many individuals have come on board, embracing their talents and contributing accordingly. Jon Wreal being one of those that has shared his exceptional ability to physically bring that magical world into ours by means of sculpting. Jon, along with the help of Kieran Toselli has created a phenomenal interpretation of Jean-Luc’s work that will be exhibited alongside the display of the story at The Turbine Art Fair 2018. The very talented and hardworking Naomi Wessels assisted Paul with typesetting and design work – kickstarting a new era of Ponguibou in style. Team Ponguibou have even gone so far as to bring one of their characters to life at Turbine Art Fair 2018 – definitely being an exciting aspect that explores new dimensions and ways of introducing the story to the public.
Without his invested collaborators, Paul would have never been able to materialise his vision, as each added their own flare to the end product of the project – to essentially create a story and vision that will have a beautiful impact on the world. Paul says, “I believe that stories can give direction to a person, they can give direction to a group and sometimes, an entire nation. When you extend that – it can give direction to the whole of the world. At least it can be accessible as a frame of reference, whether it is as a form of entertainment or even a form of reflection – it can be there to help. The goal in this adventure is to impact humanity in fabulous ways, it is about producing stories that are so constructive to the human being that they become references for the onliving. I believe that the greatest museum where you can exhibit your work, is the heart of people – we hope to be there in a way that can help people build themselves up. This would be our hall of fame.This is our place to build the most beautiful museum at the core of people, helping them in their everyday life – because we know that storytelling can have so much of an influence and can help in so many ways that we want to resonate with people at that level at grand scale.”
The story of The Boy And The Cauliflowers takes place in the world of Yelen and Paisley, two important concepts in Paul’s universe. The story is set in the third known era of that universe. At some point in that era you have the story of The Boy And The Cauliflowers, this takes place in the valley of Vous in a city called Nous. In the city, an epidemic has broken out called the epidemic of the cauliflowers. People who are infected by this disease have cauliflowers growing on them. Beyond the cauliflower symptoms, the community soon realises that those infected by the disease are gradually losing memory of who their relatives are.
The story follows a boy named Teo and his journey and challenge that he has to overcome when he discovers that his father has become infected by this dreadful disease. Teo’s quest is about facing this challenge and taking action for the better in resolving the enigma of crystals and cauliflowers tainting the city and ravaging its inhabitants of their memories and dreams. Immersed in the world of Yelen, the story introduces us to a vibrant spectrum of whimsical characters and curious creatures along the way.
Looking at the future of Ponguibou, Paul expresses his expected venture to explore interactive productions such as applications and games using the universe and story of The Boy and the Cauliflowers. He envisions creating a broad spectrum of sharing and accessibility to the story on tablets, computers, internet and mobile phones. The interactive book has been made for tablets using web technology to be adapted in future for web-browser compatibility. He states that the story has many concepts and a very deep universe that has a lot to offer and share, given the transmedia nature and content, he plans to be loyal to his exploration of the universe and give the story the exposure and ability to share that it so rightfully deserves.
Paul expresses the culture that he sees and will pursue in Ponguibou, “I am envisioning a company where what is wonderful, becomes normal. Where we pull the wonderful towards the ordinary, in order to make the ordinary wonderful. It is a place where fear or failure doesn’t have a seat. A place where we want people to be themselves and serve a vision – to go beyond what they know. People that are ready to learn new things, who are not too comfortable with what or who they already are,even if they have the most amazing experience already. A place where you can be a grown-up kid, a place where actualism is meant to be abundant, where we love people, where we love humanity, where we understand it in its diversity and that we understand it in its subtleties – and that we produce what is even dearest to us and that we share it. If we can do that, we would have accomplished something special – but a special that it supposed to be normal.”
To follow the journey of Ponguibou, subscribe and follow the social media accounts:
Facebook: Paul Sika @PaulSikaWorld ; Instagram: @Ponguibou ; Twitter: @PaulSika
For queries and contact regarding the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words by: Cristina Kirstein