‘Safety Match’: An animation helping people better understand social distancing

‘Safety Match’: An animation helping people better understand social distancing
Matchsticks. Courtesy Flickr Commons.
Leading lights  -   Artists

More times than not, art doesn’t get created simply for the sake of art. Instead it’s more likely an artist’s exploration of a topic, an exploration of self, or an artist’s response to the world around them. The latter is what inspired a husband and wife art duo to create Safety Match, an animation showing the importance of social distancing in an attempt to help others understand why, sick or not, adhering to guidelines around COVID-19 is critical to slowing its spread.

In an interview with Artnet News, Juan Declan, who created the animation alongside his wife, Valentina Izaguirre, stated: ‘We want people to understand the severity of this crisis. This is very new and it’s happening very quickly. People have no idea how to prepare for this and they are in denial.’

Just 12 seconds long, Declan and Izaguirre’s video shows a single-file line of matchsticks – a subject that they’ve worked with together for a couple of years now. The animation follows the series of red-topped sticks as they one by one ignite thanks to the matchstick next to them. That is until one matchstick steps out of the line, effectively breaking the chain. This small bit of distance stops the flame, that would’ve continued on down the line of matches, in its tracks. The match that breaks the chain exemplifies the positive effects that social distancing can have against COVID-19.

Released on Declan’s Instagram and Twitter accounts yesterday, the video has already garnered a lot of attention. The animation has received more than 735,000 views and 108,000 likes on Instagram and it has been shared thousands of times on Twitter. ‘Do your part and stay at home,’ read Declan’s Tweet sharing Safety Match. ‘It’s all we can do.’ Television personality and journalist Katie Couric and actress Olivia Wilde are among blue-tick celebs who have retweeted the video to better inform followers. The animation has also caught the attention of publications like Men’s Health and Newsweek.

It seems like the visual representation of social distancing is helping, too. “We get messages that say “hey, this really helped me understand the situation,”’ said Izaguirre of the video’s reception. ‘We knew people were going to watch it’ she continued, ‘but I don’t think we expected this global response.”

The video followed another image of similar matchstick content explaining the importance of social distancing that was widely shared on social media platforms. Declan and Izaguirre’s video comes at a time when many countries countries are cracking down on social gatherings, even in small numbers, and asking that people follow rules to help ‘flatten the curve.’

So, let’s heed Declan’s request and do our part to help slow the spread and protect those who are most venerable right now.

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