Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Get A Flip Out Of You

In 1981 George Griffin published a series of six "kinetic books".  Dullards like me know them as "flipbooks".

There's one by Kathy Rose, "Booklings" which has a bunch of happy people and cats morph out of a woman at a desk.

"Wipes2" (as in squared) drawn by Paul Glabicki is a white-on-black play on planear geometry.

Sara Petty's "Family of Four" is an interesting experiment.  She was one-of-a-kind when it came to pastel pencil animation.  The translation to black and white flipbook is intellectually satisifying in that light -even it's it doesn't pack the expected fun of the format.

Roger Kukes' "Flowering" starts with a blank page and finishes a bunch of 70s deco-inspired flowers.  I don't know Mr. Kukes, and only looked him up while writing this entry.  Man, are those some nice drawings.  They're in the vein of Jim Woodring or Kim Deitch, but altogether something their own.  The roots of those flowers may not be Aubrey Beardsley or Edward Burne-Jones after all.  They're very likely descended from Bosch and Bruegel.

Speaking of the Deitch family tree, the only other person I know from this collection is Tony Eastman.  His "Peepin' and a Hidin'"  is cartoon animation in a flipbook.

He shows us a really simple and great cartoon explosion.

The thing

Anticipation, I guess.  It's a flipbook so who knows?

Object pops down.

Boom! (little, replacing object -all in one drawing)

Pow! Complication of boom.  Smoke.  Action lines.  Explosion is jagged.

Here emerges as explosion "wipes" clear frame.  He's revealed by smoke.  Jagged primarily out of frame.

Just smoke and hero.

Smoke start blowing passed.  Dissipating.

Few puffs, hero's on his way.

Here's George's flipbook.  With his love of "anti-cartoons", you can forget what a nice cartoon animator he can be.

The New York animation scene likes to think of itself as a community.  I don't know how this was 30 years ago -but if these little flipbooks are any evidence, there was a community of sorts.

The difference between then and now, to me, is the notion of "experiment".  Experimental filmmaking is not a big part of the dialog today.  

Last year's ASIFA-East "experimental" winner lives in Boston -and the film can hardly be considered "experimental" or "avant garde" by 21st Century standards.  It's a lovely piece of work, but safe and fairly mainstream.

If you look at the two "Avoid Eye Contact" DVDs, there are 34 films.  Only one is obviously "experimental" -Rohitash Rao's "Coffee", handful of others are boundary pushing ("Roof Sex", "Fetch", a couple gems from George Griffin).

It's not like there are no experimental filmmakers in New York.  Somehow, traditional animation (as represented by ASIFA, the animation hegemony) has fallen out of touch with the Norman McLaren's of the world.


Tim Rauch said...

well, the great thing about ASIFA-East is: it is what you make it. the events are open and free, the board meetings are accessible to anyone and Dave Levy is always open to writing from anyone for the newsletter as well as ideas about what to program for events. all it takes is for a Norman McLaren to get involved, we'll play nice!

Asterisk Animation said...

What I'm ultimately getting at, Tim, is that experimental filmmakers have no reason to join ASIFA.

As nice as the members are, the vast majority of them roll their eyes when anything unusual comes on screen.

There's an allergy to the avant-garde that permeates the society in New York. So much so that I've been personally told- in jeering tones- that certain experimental works "aren't animation".

Sure, an "art film" maker can join ASIFA, just as a person of color can join The Bushwood Country Club. It's not a question of access, it's interest -why would they?

Michael Sporn said...

To continue your thought, experimental filmmakers have no reason to join anything since they're so obviously outcaste from ALL animation circles these days.

The form was more accepted in the late 60s early 70s. It's virtually unacceptable these days.

When Bill Plympton can spoof experimental films and that can open an Annecy Animation Festival and get applause from the audience, you have to admit we're in a different world.

Aside from this, experimentation can be slighter than you would like it to be and still be as daring. Trying to do a bit of classical animation and squeezing an obvious distortion in there might only be perceived by the animatior, but to that animator it might be quite daring.

Asterisk Animation said...

Michael, I understand what you're saying regarding "slight" experimentation, but isn't that intrinsic to be an artist?

One is constantly searching, therefore "experimenting".

Experimental film as a form engages not just technique in new ways, but also narrative.

It's unfortunate that the great possibilities offered by new media are not embraced by ASIFA.

Something like is a profound "experiment" in narrative -as much, or more so, than something like Karl Staven's "Piano Dog..." which was the last truly experimental film to be embraced by the society in New York.

For the record I think "Piano Dog..." is an amazing peice of work and a deserved winner.