Cut, Paste, Like
Published on July 22nd, 2012 | by Daniel Guzmán0
On July 20 and 21, Anthology Film Archives celebrated the art of cut-up animation, bringing together classic artists and up-and-comers, both in film and in digital video. The first program (Friday) featured a selection of recent shorts curated by animator Jodie Mack. The second program (Saturday) featured collage legend Lawrence Jordan’s feature “Sophie’s Place,” as well as newly discovered outtakes from Harry Smith’s abandoned “Oz” feature. It was two nights of wild animation techniques, mind-bending themes, and above all else, a visual feast for the eyes.
Time to roll up your sleeves and tuck that napkin into your shirt collar. We’re going to dig into some of the better videos from the new artists on display.
“The Collagist” (Amy Lockhart, 2009)
Running time: 2 minutes 5 seconds. Digital video.
In “The Collagist,” a fun juxtaposition of imagery and sounds, we observe as the hands of an artist fit together images with words, pausing for the occasional smoke break and cup of coffee. Eventually, this meticulous approach to mixing and matching the right pieces leads to the unseen artist’s ruin in a conclusion that is both fitting and somewhat representative of the trial-and-error approach to the creative process.
“Where’s My Boyfriend?” (Gretchen Hogue, 2005)
Running time: 2 minutes. Digital video.
One of the funniest videos I’ve seen in a while. The narrator’s unending mantra of “Where’s My Boyfriend?” goes from creepy fun to downright disturbing as we see the (un)natural thought progression from boyfriend to sex to having babies by the dozen (literally). Mixing ’70s pornographic images with graphic images of childbirth, this video is extraordinary in pacing and story, if not altogether engaging in execution. The animation is pretty awful, with stretched-out images, sliding frames, and other student film clichés. One could argue that this is all intentional in that popular approach of making everything funny look like some vintage PSA from Illinois circa 1986—but, really, how hard is it to keep an image’s aspect ratio intact?
Running time: 16 minutes. Digital video.
A lovely animation that can only really be explained in adjectives and nouns (to recreate the cut-and-paste quality of the images): sublime, dreamlike, black and white, surrealist, phantasmagoric, Kafka, William Blake, and…fish (yes, there’s fish). The music is also quite brooding, reminiscent of something from some mid-’80s horror movie, or something from Wendy Carlos’s back catalog. This is the kind of video that should come with a coffee table book, complete with strange pop-ups of giant beds and men with bat wings.
Running time: 3 minutes 30 seconds. Digital video.
An enjoyable animation based on the Linda Perhacs song. A Peeping Tom observes Goat and Tiger Woman reclining in a cabin. Later, he raises a toast to Wolf Women in the paper country. While it is a professionally made work, there is too much repetitive imagery, even for a music video. Regardless, not a bad piece of animation. I’d watch a whole series of these. Tiger Women, yes!
Running time: 1 minutes 30 seconds. Digital video.
A fun bit of animation. Monsters, Chickens, and Smiling Hamburger People get wiped out by a warrior with a very big weapon. It’s hilarious, and the music selection is perfect. Reminds me of the best of Liquid Television in its day. Sadly, it’s way too short of an adventure. I mean, a minute and thirty seconds? Just when you expect it to take off into extreme levels of absurdity, it’s all over. Did the animator run out of ideas, money, hard drive space? One hopes that future efforts are nice and long, a full-length feature, perhaps. Get this man a grant, already—or at least a generous Kickstarter fanbase.
Running time: 2 minutes 20 seconds. Digital video.
Primates, birds, construction equipment. It’s like a disturbed Sesame Street vignette. There are a lot of beautiful moments in this animation, a strange cross between an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine and some sort of nature documentary. The experiments are wonderful if perhaps too many, as if the director were splicing together a lot of demo reels. And seriously, I think only animators and The Disney Channel find primates hilarious these days.
“MEHOH 01A” (Jon Satrom, 2009)
Running time: 2 minutes 9 seconds. Digital video.
The DVD player icon is brought to life as some sort of business-suit-wearing friendly tour guide to the Apocalypse. Breakdancing, some exploration of daytime television, an octopus, and hip-hop. Does it need to make sense? Of course not. But it should at least pretend to know where it’s going, even if we don’t. I guess this is trying to say something about television and the fleeting nature of “new” technology, but really, who the hell knows. Just put your brain on mute and enjoy.