Activity: Explore Rokni Haerizadeh’s Reign of Winter

  • Subjects: Art Activities

Rokni Haerizadeh’s video, Reign of Winter, is a response to the media coverage of the 2011 British royal wedding, an event viewed by millions of people around the world. In this artwork, Haerizadeh has reconfigured and reimagined this historic occurrence by painting over footage of the event and creating a fantastical animated video. This additional layer of illustration changes how we perceive the wedding, encouraging us to consider the culture and context surrounding the popularity of royal weddings and related spectacles.

Activity #1: Poem Procession

Let’s take a closer look and add layers of our own.

a headless prince and princess stand at alter, awaiting to be wed.
Rokni Haerizadeh, Reign of Winter (detail of film still), 2012-2013, Carnegie Museum of Art, The Henry L. Hillman Fund, © Rokni Haerizadeh. By permission.
  1. Check out the original footage of the royal wedding (beginning at 2:24:03) without Haerizadeh’s painted images. This footage shows the royal couple arriving at the palace with their entourage.
  2. With paper and a pencil, list three to five nouns (persons, places, or things) that you see in the original footage that you just watched down the middle of your page. For example:
    • Gate
    • Horse
    • Building
  3. Now, take a look at the artist’s transformation of the scene: Reign of Winter (from 6:23 to 6:35). What do you see going on in this scene? In what ways did the artist transform the original figures and objects?
  4. Return to your list of nouns. Next to each noun, add an adjective (a word that describes a noun) that this scene from Reign of Winter brings to mind. For example:
    • Tall Gate
    • Bouncing Horse
    • Flat Building
  5. End your list poem with a short sentence that has now taken the shape of a poem. For example:
    Tall Gate
    Bouncing Horse
    Flat Building
    Slowly from outside to inside.
  6. Repeat this process by comparing a still image from the royal wedding (at 3:27:36) and a still image from Reign of Winter (at 8:19), listing nouns and adding adjectives and a sentence.
  7. Read your poems again. As you reflect on your observations, consider how your perception of the events did or did not change as you examined the images. What new conclusions can you draw about the celebrity culture that you consume in your own life based on these observations?

Activity #2: Rotoscope Venture

Rokni Haerizadeh uses an animation technique called rotoscoping for Reign of Winter. The artist paints directly onto still photographs printed from news footage, then films each painted photograph for a fraction of a second. When the film plays, the scenes look as if they are animated images. Follow the steps below and give it a try!

A man with a blurred face stands next to a cake with arms.
Rokni Haerizadeh, Reign of Winter (detail of film still), 2012-2013, Carnegie Museum of Art, The Henry L. Hillman Fund, © Rokni Haerizadeh. By permission.
  1. Turn on a device of your choice (TV, laptop, phone, etc.) and tune into a news channel or your favorite show.
  2. Find a scene where a figure appears prominently and is moving in a way that is clear when the scene is paused. Take screenshots or photographs of a short sequence of images or scenes (two to three) from your show, and print out a few black-and-white images. You can start with one printout and go from there; Rokni Haerizadeh printed 12,000 images for this eight-minute video! He considers each single still image an individual artwork.
  3. Observe your printed image(s) and take a closer look at what is going on.
    • Who might the figures be?
    • What might they be doing?
    • Whose perspective is being communicated here?
    • What alterations might you add to the background and the figures to add a new layer to the existing narrative??

    Haerizadeh transformed the queen into a cake! Why a cake? Perhaps to convey Sweetness? Opulence? Decadence? Indulgence?

  4. Grab some colorful mark-making tools of your choice (colored pencils, markers, crayons, paint, etc.) and use your imagination! Try transforming the figure or background to add your layer to the narrative.
    • What has changed?
    • What perspectives, critiques, and experiences are you bringing to your image?
  5. Repeat this process with your other printed images. Use the original figure(s) as your guide as you transform them. You are rotoscoping these images by applying your transformations on top of the movements captured in the original film.
  6. Take digital photographs of each of your transformed images and plug them into any free animation software. We recommend ImgPlay, a .gif maker that is useful for this experiment. You can also animate your images manually by creating a flipbook with them.