Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Sometimes the city looks like a cartoon.

A big factor in the success of Bakshi's Heavy Traffic and Fritz the Cat is the conflation of urban life with the cartoon landscape. Heavy Traffic's photographic backgrounds are a convenient shortcut, really it goes beyond that.

While we were working on "Trees" for They Might Be Giants, they send us another song: "Celebrate Brooklyn".

My friend Martha Colburn had just moved to New York after a five year stint in Amsterdam so I asked if she wanted to make the film.

She and I spent a warm afternoon wandering Brooklyn taking photographs (and getting release forms signed). The next day we bought a big printer at J&R.

Typically Martha works on film. At that time she had a residency at Lower Manhattan Community Council and hadn't set up a camera stand. Plus, I think working on film for a commercial project like this is stupid. For fine art, that's another monster and there are good arguments for the expense of negative.

I set her up with a still camera into her laptop and a tripod for downshooting. This was all made as stop-motion cut outs under camera. Take a picture, move it a little, take another picture...

We gave her two days and an intern, then edited what she came up with.
above: Martha operating her current camera apparatus.

As dearly as I love Martha and her work, sometimes her films get a little long and stretch the topic. She's at her best when focused on a narrow idea and allowing her insight to fill it with oddities. From that comes both creepiness and fun. She can give you a deeper emotional knowledge of a singular thing in a loopy, profound manner.

Despite it's intentional goofiness, "Celebrate Brooklyn" accomplishes that. I'm proud to have played a part in its making.

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