MIFFONEDGE is a multi-media exhibition that features audio visual works that undermine common sense assumptions about the nature of film. In 2016, we paid tribute to animation pioneer Robert Breer (1926-2011) and highlighted some contemporary work by Kelly Gallagher and Dustin Grella that resonate with Breer’s approaches. We also screened two live-action works by Stephanie Maxwell in which the natural world appears mesmerizingly abstract. Joining us from Brazil, the performance ensemble VJ Suave supplemented their MIFFONEDGE video installation with mobile projections through the streets of Waterville.
MIFFONEDGE Vol. 4 featured artists:
Fuji (1974, 8:40)
Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons (1981, 6:30)
Robert Breer (1926-2011) was a US painter, kinetic sculptor, and filmmaker perhaps best known for his experimental animated films. Combining abstract and representational drawing and painting, collage, filmed 16mm footage, rotoscoping and photographs, Breer’s films provide new perspectives on familiar objects or events. In his films, playful randomness collides with order, patterns and relationships temporarily appear, expectations are alternately fulfilled or denied. Whimsical and witty, Breer always entertains without resorting to narrative.
In Fuji, Breer renders a version of his train ride past Japan’s Mount Fuji, combining live action with drawings essentially traced from live action (rotoscoping). Recognizable images alternate with abstract displays of color or movement. Visual space is explicitly flat but with intermittent illusions of depth. In 2002, the Library of Congress added Fuji to the National Film Registry, ensuring its preservation as a crucial part of America’s film heritage
In Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons, what might at first seem to be images of random objects begin to gain conceptual coherency through similar, recurring shapes and movements. Ultimately the film is a dance of similarity and difference.
Robert Breer’s films are sponsored by Colby Cinema Studies
Pen Up the Pigs (2014 12:00)
Pearl Pistols (2014 3:00)
Kelly Gallagher’s work is doubly political. Her collage animations directly engage political issues and her handcrafted method of composing images foregrounds rather than hides the labor of film production. In Pen Up the Pigs, Gallagher explores historical connections between the violence of slavery and contemporary racist policing and mass incarceration. As people fight back against racist oppression, the natural world responds with animated cut-out flowers. Nature celebrates radical resistance with flowering life.
In Pearl Pistols, Gallagher provides an animated accompaniment to a speech by black revolutionary Queen Mother Moore who in 1973 recalls a New Orleans audience standing up to racist police and demanding to hear Marcus Garvey speak.
Ocean (2014, 11:35)
Music by Michaela Eremiasova
Co-editors: Stephanie Maxwell and Manojh Reddy
River (2015, 10:08)
Music by Tom Davis
Co-editors: Stephanie Maxwell and Manojh Reddy
Stephanie Maxwell is a professor in the School of Film and Animation at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her award –winning films have screened in hundreds of international film festivals and exhibition programs.
In Ocean, Maxwell explores the ever-changing world of visual compositions when sunlight shines on moving water and bottom sand. Filmed in HD on the beaches around Newport Oregon, the most minute and subtle events gain an emotive power when presented as distinct variations and themes interwoven with the musical score.
River explores the beauty that’s revealed when one focuses attention on the motion of river water and the animated reflections and refractions of sunlight and sky. Image sequences merge into a playful choreography with the musical score.
Animation Hotline, 2015 (2015, 5:17)
Dustin Grella is a New York based animator, documentary filmmaker and artist. Founder of Dusty Studio, his work often relies on a slate chalkboard and pastels. The Animation Hotline series uses crowd-sourced voicemail messages as content for micro-animations. Grella has animated over 150 of these messages since 2011. This selection on display at MIFF features only real life stories and demonstrates Grella’s ability to make the apparently mundane beautiful and insightful.
Digital Folklore (2015, 22:00)
Sao Paulo based artists Ygor Marotta and Ceci Soloaga (VJ Suave) use their self-designed “Suaveciclos,” tricycles outfitted with projectors, batteries, loud speakers and laptops, to provide mobile projections of animation on city surfaces. They manipulate their animated videos in real time, interacting with their audience and a dynamic urban space.
Their installation Folclore Digital offers an immersive 22-minute animation experience featuring Brazilian folk legends and mythology. Audiences encounter characters like Curupira the guardian of the forest who protects nature from people who want to destroy it, Iara, a mermaid, representing the enchantment of rivers and waterfalls, and Iemanja, the mother of the sea.