In this collection visual artists experiment with stop-motion techniques, familiar studio mediums and unexpected materials to create new time-based work.
A tossed stone skipping across the surface of a lake has an impossible charm to it. Motion can be a catalyst for amazing beauty. Take for example these nine works by artists who are experimenting with stop-motion animation. All of the artists, whose primary practice is not animation but rather painting, drawing, sculpture, performance or multimedia, have created animations that reflect their principle medium and take their work in interestingly new directions. These animations are made with a diverse selection of materials, some conventional (paint, paper, ink and wood) and others are not so much (an alarm clock, a chia pet, binding tape or even the body itself). Animation has a unique way of capturing our imagination. Reality is suspended when the mind fills in the gaps between still frames and movements. When these artists manipulate different materials and set them in motion, the results are transformative and enchanting.
Stop-motion animation also allows us to see the handmade qualities of the work or to get a glimpse into process. When David O’Kane masterfully creates animations for his doppelganger series, we watch drips and messy strokes of paint move across the canvas that animates both the process of painting and the subject being painted. Scott Wolniak chooses something as mystifying and magical as fire and captures its essence in an animated drawing. Painter Mel Prest uses time-lapse to document a painting deciphered from the spelling of Led Zeppelin lyrics.
Editing these works involves rhythm and storytelling. Sean Horchy cleverly uses a ticking clock and precise rhythm to create a minimalist musical score. Kathy Aoki combines humor and satire in a futuristic ode to pop-icon Gwen Stefani. Experimenting in stop-motion for some of these artists has lead to altogether new ways of working. Andy Vogt’s mysterious animation is actually created from small blocks of wood and discards from his large-scaled sculptures. Paz de la Calzada and Michael Rauner collaborate on a fictional set of animated photos that serve as precursors to large-scaled wall murals.
Sometimes the simplest ideas in stop-motion lead to amazing results. No special effects are needed when Tommy Becker uses stop-motion techniques to capture a raw performance of him imitating the sun’s rotation, and Aeneas Wilder makes a 3-D drawing using only four posts and red paper tape.
All of these artists have embraced stop-motion for different reasons and with varied results. This exhibit is just a taste of these artists’ accomplishments. I encourage you to visit their websites to see where their work originated and where it may be heading. You may be surprised and charmed.
SARAH KLEIN is a San Francisco Bay Area artist whose own practice includes animation. Klein uses paper cutouts and stop-motion techniques to create humorous and often dark narratives on domestic life and related themes. She has screened and exhibited her work widely at an international selection of venues including General Public in Berlin, Exit Art in New York, The Glasshouse in Tel Aviv and the Mill Valley Film Festival. Among her many honors are residencies at the International Animated Film School in Cakovec, Croatia, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside, California and awards from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding and Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure Grant. In 2008 she began the curatorial project Stop & Go that features stop-motion works by visual artists and filmmakers. The second installment of the show Stop & Go Rides Again has toured internationally and will return to San Francisco this Fall when it screens alongside a gallery exhibition at Z Space in October, 2011. Currently Klein is collecting works for Stop & Go 3-D that is set to premiere in 2012.
Image by Sarah Klein
Pulling Down The Sky To Give You The Sun by Tommy Becker