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Graphic Hallucinations: Experimental Animation on Film

On October, 26 and 27th IZOLYATSIA invites those who are interested in experimental/artist film and animation of any kind. 

Curator and film projectionist from Philadelphia (USA), Herb Shellenberger, will present the selection of works by such master filmmakers as Stan Brakhage, John Whitney, Rene Laloux, Norman McLaren, Len Lye and Oskar Fischinger. 

ZOLYATSIA offers an opportunity to examine a number of animated films which were made and projected on celluloid film (35mm or 16mm) from across an 80-year period. Herb Shellenberger will conduct curator introductions before and talkbacks after each of the screenings. He will give background on the film, artists, their working methods, the history of this type of filmmaking, as well as many different techniques: painting on film, collage animation, pixilation, rotoscoping, direct animation, stop-motion animation, clay animation, painting on glass and so on. 

This selection of films has been designed to primarily come from the distribution collections of MoMA and The Film- Makers’ Coop though many of the actual film prints are coming from the collection of International House Philadelphia.



PART I: “ANIMATED ABSTRACTION” is concerned with filmmakers’ use of animation to create visual abstraction and nonobjective forms.

Len Lye’s A Colour Box (1935) features stencils, paint and optical printing on film to create an eye-popping advertisement for the UK General Post Office. Pioneering Canadian animator Norman McLaren created Lines Vertical (1960) which is just that: vertical lines drawn directly on the film stock, sliding downward and illustrating the dimensions of Maurice Blackburn’s hypnotic musical score. The psychedelic films of John Whitney (Matrix, 1971) were created on a 12foot tall analog computer the artist made by converting a WWII antiaircraft gun director into a machine capable of producing fantastic patterns. Larry Cuba, a former assistant to the Whitney brothers, used computer animation to map out geometric forms, creating fantastic flashes of light and movement in films like Two Space (1979). The films showed in Animated Abstraction present varied views on the structure and methods of animating images. 


 Symphonie Diagonale (Viking Eggeling, 1924, Germany, 16mm, 5’); Muratti Marches On! (Oskar Fischinger, 1934, Germany, 16mm, 3’); Composition in Blue (Oskar Fischinger, 1935, Germany, 16mm, 4’); A Colour Box (Len Lye, 1935, UK, 16mm, 3’); Glens Falls Sequence (Douglas Crockwell, 193746, US, 16mm, 7’); Allures (Jordan Belson, 1961, US, 16mm, 7’); Gulls and Buoys (Robert Breer, 1972, US, 16mm, 7’); Seed Reel (Mary Beams, 1976, US, 16mm, 3’); Lines Vertical (Norman McLaren, 1960, Canada, 16mm, 6’); Two Space (Larry Cuba, 1979, US, 16mm, 8’); Matrix (John Whitney, 1971, US, 16mm, 6’); OffOn (Scott Bartlett, 1972, US, 16mm, 9’); Cosmic Ray (Bruce Conner, 1961, US, 16mm, 4’); Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase (Joan C. Gratz, 1992, US, 16mm, 7’)

PART II: “UNCONVENTIONAL NARRATIVES” has a number of films that work loosely within the cartoon tradition but that are surreal, psychedelic or just plain weird. 

Sally Cruikshank’s classic underground animation Quasi at the Quackadero (1975) follows two ducks and their pet robot to a futuristic amusement park. The 10 minute film is made up of approximately 100 watercolor backgrounds and 5,000 animation cels. In La Linea (1973), the animator bedevils Mr. Line by surprising him with obstacles and incongruities, at times intervening onscreen with his hand and pen. Impetigo (1983) shows a warped reality and troubled romance between Zeke, an anthropomorphic birdlike creature and Fish, a fish. Suzan Pitt’s Asparagus (1978), a film that was shown with David Lynch’s Eraserhead on the midnight movie circuit, is a wordless trip through a strange, fantastic underworld of mysterious sexuality that moves from handdrawn animation to clay animation and back again, all underneath a swirling synthesizer score.


Ai! (Yoji Kuri, 1963, Japan, 16mm, 5'); The Cameraman’s Revenge (Wladislaw Starewicz, 1912, Russia, 16mm, 12’); Neighbours (Norman McLaren, 1952, Canada, 16mm, 8’); Les Escargots (Rene Laloux, 1965, France, 16mm, 11’); La Linea (Osvaldo Cavandoli, 1973, Italy, 16mm, 11’); Rhinoceros (Jan Lenica, 1964, Germany, 16mm, 11’); Impetigo (James Duesing, 1983, US, 16mm, 5'); Quasi at the Quackadero (Sally Cruikshank, 1975, US, 16mm, 10'); Asparagus (Suzan Pitt, 1978, US, 16mm, 18')

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