Close Up

4 March 2018: Made at CalArts: Experimental Animation, 1974 - Present


This programme features a selection of experimental animation work made at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), from the programme’s foundation in the early 1970’s through the present day. With a focus on the aesthetic innovation, unrestrained spirit, and emphasis on personal vision that have defined CalArts in its 45 years of existence, the lineup includes eccentric cartoons, cosmic psychedelia, existential crises, subtle studies in textural abstraction, and stroboscopic reveries. These films represent an approach to animation that is by turns ambitious, introspective, joyful, and imaginative: uniquely and distinctively CalArts.

Curated and introduced by Alexander Stewart for the Edge of Frame Weekend 2018.

No Stories Now
Chris Bishop
2017 | 4'24 min | Colour | Digital

Hopefully, in moving toward weakness, there can be recognition of false relief.

Michael Patterson
1981 | 4'45 min | Colour | Digital

A rhythmic meditation on a man’s workaday life, where passages of high-speed cacophony alternate with moments of calm introspection. A loose rotoscoping technique combines depictions of a fast-paced urban environment, midcentury figures with noir overtones, flickering single-frame abstractions of movement, and the respite of the suburbs.

Jamie Wolfe
USA | 3’05 min | Colour | Digital

Sanity diminishes as the temperature rises.

Steve Hillenburg
1992 | 7 min | Colour | Digital

A fly rests on the steering wheel of a car moving along a suburban roadscape. Time dilates and contracts in a cyclical moment of existential contemplation.

Calvin Frederick
2014 | 4'30 min | Colour | Digital

A film about September 11, 1991/2001/2057.

Boulder Ranch
Kevin Eskew
2016 | 1'45 min | Colour | Digital

He thinks, "My capacities are better than my wildest fantasies."

Log Hill Story / Film for Log Hill Dogs
Diana Wilson
1976 | 2 min | Colour | Digital

Inspired by her life in Colorado, these two short films are an elegant depiction of landscape and domestic space.

Mountain Castle Mountain Flower Plastic
Annapurna Kumar
2017 | 3 min | Colour | Digital

Small pieces of information can be stored separately within a shared container. The most efficient containers can house multiple pieces of information in the same location, intersecting from different angles.

Amy Kravitz
1988 | 5'30 min | Colour | Digital

A film composed solely of stark abstract images animated with black lithographic crayon on paper. "The Trap" was inspired by a quote from holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel's book, Souls on Fire: "I try to imagine my grandfather in the train that carried him away." Using the language of pure animation, "The Trap" articulates the difficult and disturbing sensations of that last journey.

Govinda's Vision
John Campbell
1993 | 3'25 min | Colour | Digital

A set of Rorschach ink-blot images animated with a replacement technique.

Lazy Daze
Brian Smee
2016 | 4 min | Colour | Digital

Dog in the land where the good life takes you.

Mirror People
Kathy Rose
1974 | 5min | Colour | Digital

Funky wicked characters bend and shape space, at times appearing contained by objects and surfaces, and then shifting dimensions via a hand-held mirror.

Utilities Included
Noah Malone
2016 | 2'50 min | Colour | Digital

A loaded dishwasher and a clean conscience.

Ship of Fools
Josh Shaffner
2016 | 6'17 min | Colour | Digital

A cry for help.

Moon Breath Beat
Lisze Bechtold
1980 5 min | Colour | Digital

A stream-of-consciousness animation “loosely about the loss and regaining of creativity”. The film’s depiction of a woman and her cats is handled with a mesmerising, and at times surprising, use of repetition and rhythm.

Flesh Flows
Adam Beckett
1974 | 6 min | Colour | Digital

A risqué cartoon transforms into a fluid cosmic abstraction through use of Beckett’s signature optical printing techniques.

Alexander Stewart is co-founder of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation, and curated the film and video screening series at Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center in Chicago from 2006 to 2013. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Experimental Animation program at CalArts. His own short films have screened internationally, including at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Image Forum in Japan. 

Part of the Edge of Frame Weekend 2018, a three-day celebration of experimental animation screenings and discussion curated by Edwin Rostron (Edge of Frame), taking place across London at BFI Southbank, Barbican and Close-Up. Supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Royal College of Art, and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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