Before Disney’s Fantasia (Joe Grant & Dick Huemer, 1940) introduced the idea of visual music to mass audiences, experimental filmmakers had been playing with the idea for decades. As early as 1909, Italian futurists were painting abstract forms onto film stock, attempting to translate the purity of classical compositions into moving image media.
As rhythmic meditations on urban spaces that shied away from character and narrative, city films of the 1920s and 1930s blended modernism, documentary, everyday life, and abstraction. The filmmakers took their cameras into the streets, capturing architecture, people, and industrial tempos, and then they pieced together their footage using graphic and thematic modes of organization.
“Do pretty pictures plus symbols equal art?” – Pauline Kael on the film Blow-Up Alejandro Jodorowsky is a man who deals in symbols, which is almost a silly thing to say considering that almost all artists are in some way working with linguistic, physical, or aural means to convey a larger point. Jodorowsky however is… Read more »
I think every artist can learn something from David Lynch. He is a touchstone for many surrealists, but even more conventional writers and painters can learn something from his combination of visuals and sound. I’ve spent the last year making an odyssey into the majority of his filmography, and I’d highly recommend that you do… Read more »
The Czech surrealist filmmaker, Jan Švankmajer, has a preoccupation with morphing, distorted, incoherent bodies. In his stop motion films, he frequently works with everyday things like toys and clothes, imbuing them with lives that defy how we normally make sense of the world. This video essay looks at the dolls in his 1971 film, Jabberwocky (Žvahlav aneb… Read more »
U.S. pop culture in the postwar era often presented a tidy world. TV moms vacuumed in heels and full skirts. Superman’s hair was always neat and presentable, despite flying around the city faster than a speeding bullet. And media preferred to avoid moral ambiguities. Collage animator Lewis Klahr draws from mid-twentieth-century pop culture – comics,… Read more »