A dictionary begins when it no longer gives the meaning of words, but their tasks.
--- Georges Bataille
It is most often the case when I refer to my work as experimental animation that I am met with the question, what is experimental animation? I am instantly reminded of a story about Louis Armstrong in conversation with Johnny Carson who asked Armstrong, “What is jazz?” Louis Armstrong enthusiastically responded, “Well if you don’t know what it is, I sure as hell can’t tell you!”
In some ways, Louis Armstrong’s response might be said to be universal for questions having to do with art, in that any attempt to offer definition tends to further confuse, bind, constrict and/or be irrelevant, rather than to clarify meaning. As a scholar and as an artist, I am most interested in the unanswerable. As I understand it, to ask the unanswerable is the beginning of an event … if you will, an event of language, timing and gesture, experimentation and conceptualizing. The more important consideration in a “what is ____?” question is not the answer, but the asking.. How is it we know so little about the art form?
The artist is a creative intellectual, not an inspired idiot. --- Brown Report, Harvard University, 1956
With an historical critical trajectory in mind, I would like to briefly consider the advent of Modernist artists who widely experimented with new concepts of time and movement in painting, dance, music, and theater, and the resulting art history generated across those disciplines. (... continued ...)
By Carlos Santa, 1989, 24:02 min Where the eventful journey of Mr. Isaac Ink takes place and the vicissitudes that he encounters with his dead companion. By Juan Camilo González, 2011, 05:54 min ReconoceR is a palindrome word in Spanish that means “to recognize.” The film is an abstract summary of the history of violence in Colombia, playing back and forth in an exercise to recognize its complexity. It is the first film within a series to be paired with the music composition In Abyssus HumanÆ ConscientiÆ by Colombian composer Rodolfo Acosta. By Cecilia Traslaviña, 2011, 07:44 min A journey through the profound silence of a mother. By Diana Menestrey, 2009, 08:16 min A line unwraps, builds and dissolves situations about two opposite sides. Two extremes, two edges, two knots, a here and a there. By Carlos Santa, 2010, 5 min excerpt of 67 min film León Prozak decides to rent his head to Mephistopheles in order to pitch him some circus acts. Each act is conceived by an artist who expresses his vision of the world through animated paintings or drawings. The excerpts show Carlos Santa’s and David Manzur’s journey into mysticism, Adriana Espinoza’s politically engaged drawings of disappeared people and Raffael Dussan’s questions on eroticism.
In Abyssus HumanÆ ConscientiÆ
El Silencio Habita en tu Ventana
(Silence Lives within Your Window)
Los Extraños Presagios de León Prozak
(The Strange Presages of León Prozak)
By Carlos Santa, 1989, 24:02 min
Where the eventful journey of Mr. Isaac Ink takes place and the vicissitudes that he encounters with his dead companion.
By Juan Camilo González, 2011, 05:54 min
ReconoceR is a palindrome word in Spanish that means “to recognize.” The film is an abstract summary of the history of violence in Colombia, playing back and forth in an exercise to recognize its complexity. It is the first film within a series to be paired with the music composition In Abyssus HumanÆ ConscientiÆ by Colombian composer Rodolfo Acosta.
By Cecilia Traslaviña, 2011, 07:44 min
A journey through the profound silence of a mother.
By Diana Menestrey, 2009, 08:16 min
A line unwraps, builds and dissolves situations about two opposite sides. Two extremes, two edges, two knots, a here and a there.
By Carlos Santa, 2010, 5 min excerpt of 67 min film
León Prozak decides to rent his head to Mephistopheles in order to pitch him some circus acts. Each act is conceived by an artist who expresses his vision of the world through animated paintings or drawings. The excerpts show Carlos Santa’s and David Manzur’s journey into mysticism, Adriana Espinoza’s politically engaged drawings of disappeared people and Raffael Dussan’s questions on eroticism.
Join us for a Visions & Voices event featuring rarely-seen animation by Colombia's foremost experimental animation pioneers, Carlos Santa and Cecilia Traslaviña, and two of their students, Diana Menestry and Juan Camilo González. Exploding with powerful metaphors, surreal landscapes, and haunting images, these imaginative animated films were created within a context of a country ravaged by war, illustrating the philosophical and mental struggles of its people in conflict. These innovative experimental animations utilize a range of techniques, from rotoscoping to under-the-camera animation, challenging concepts of traditional cinema.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers Santa, Traslaviña, and their former student and current USC MFA student Juan Camilo González; international media scholar Dr. Cristina Venegas; and moderator Dr. Janeann Dill. The conversation will investigate artistic practice within the context of war and the role of the artist in politics.
Following the panel, a reception in the School of Cinematic Arts West Lobby will feature typical Colombian foods such as empanadas and buñuelos, and classic Colombian music.
Carlos Santa, Filmmaker and Panelist:
Carlos Santa is the pioneer of experimental animation in Colombia and mentor of many young Colombian artists today. His film work begins with a magical encounter between the fine arts and time. His works are painting, drawings, engravings and sculptures that seduce us for their beauty, but finally shocking for revealing the complex role of contemporary man immersed in his own tragedies. In 1988 with the support of FOCINE he published his film El pasajero de la noche, and in 1994 he exhibited La selva oscura at the Caracas film festival. Both films received critical recognition for their artistic and narrative merits. In 2003 the animated full-length film Bolivar the Hero was released.
Cecilia Traslaviña, Filmmaker and Panelist:
Cecilia Traslaviña was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1960. She has worked at the Javeriana University since 2000 in the Visual Arts Department, as animation teacher, director of undergraduate works on animation and coordinator of the Experimental Animation course. She had been jury member in international short film festivals in Colombia and gave a lecture about Colombian Animation at the Animamundi Animation Festival in Brazil in 2004. Her last work Almas Santas Almas Pacientes ('Holy Souls Patient Souls') was selected in several international film festivals and also was included in the Colombian Experimental Animation program at the 6th IAFF ReAnimacja in Poland.
Juan Camilo González, Filmmaker and Panelist:
USC John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts, MFA-2
Born in Manizales, Colombia, Juan Camilo González studied Visual Arts at the Javeriana University of Bogotá under the mentorship of Carlos Santa and Cecilia Traslaviña. There he produced his first animated short film "Los Tres Errantes." With the support of the Annenberg Fellowship, he is now pursuing his MFA at the John C. Hench Animation & Digital Arts division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. In LA he has directed and animated two short films and is currently developing his thesis project. Co-creator of the group, "Moebius Animación" is dedicated to promote and exhibit artists, films, and research around experimental animation in Colombia and Latin America.
Diana Menestrey Schwieger, Filmmaker:
Diana Menestrey Schwieger graduated in 2009 from the fine arts program of the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. She developed her first animation piece "Dist-Ansiando" during 2008 as her thesis film while participating in the exchange program with KHM (Academy of Media Arts) in Cologne, Germany. Her work illustrates complex human internal struggles, its contradictions and reinterpretations, through the use of minimalistic imagery.
Dr. Cristina Venegas, Panelist:
Cristina Venegas, who received her Ph.D. in Critical Studies from USC, is Associate Professor in Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her teaching and writing focus on Latin American media, Spanish-language media in the U.S., digital media, international cinema, and cultural studies. She is the author ofDigital Dilemmas: The State, the Individual, and Digital Media in Cuba (Rutgers, 2010). She has written about film and political culture, revolutionary imagination in the Americas, telenovelas, contemporary Latin American cinema, co-productions and a monograph dealing with cyberculture in Cuba. She has curated numerous film programs on Latin American and Indigenous film in the US and Canada, and is Co-founder and Artistic Director (since 2004) of the Latino CineMedia International Film Festival in Santa Barbara that is now co-presented with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. curator of numerous film programs on Latin American, Latino, and Indigenous film throughout the U.S.
Dr. Janeann Dill, Panel Moderator:
An artist, author and scholar, Dr. Dill earned her Ph.D. (2006) in Media Philosophy and Communications from the Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinare Studien Eufis. Presently in revision of a forthcoming book, Thought and Timing, Philosophy of Experimental Animation, Dill earned her M.F.A. (1994) from the Experimental Animation Department at California Institute of the Arts in the School of Film and Video. Dill has presented papers in numerous national and international conferences as a panelist and speaker. Of interest to Dill is the rise of an international avant-garde in time-based media, i.e., experimental animation, as a nascent interdisciplinary art form borne of cultural isolation, war, or an art historical predicament. Awarded an Ahmanson Foundationgrant, an Annenberg Foundation Independent Media Grant, a James Irvine Foundationgrant, three Artist-In-the-Schools Grants from the National Endowment for the Artsand a Mary Lou Boone Grant for Performance in Experimental Animation and Choreography, her Ph.D. is in Media Philosophy, her MFA is in Experimental Animation, and her M.A. and B.A. are in Fine Arts (Painting, Printmaking, Drawing). Her film, "Paris Is A Woman" has been screened internationally and was awarded "Best Experimental Short Film" and "Best Directorial Debut in Short Film Category. Dr. Dill is Director and Faculty in the Honors College, Capstone International Study Abroad, at the University of Alabama, and Founding Institute Director ofThe Institute for Interdisciplinary Art and Creative Intelligence (IIACI).
The Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre is located at 3507 Trousdale Pkwy.
The USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007.
Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.
For a map of the USC University Park Campus, click here.
This event is organized by Animation & Digital Arts Associate Professor Sheila Sofian, Instructor of Cinema Practice Lisa Mann, and MFA-2 Juan Camilo González.
IIACI PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Dr. Janeann Dill, Institute Founder-Director
THINK IIACI! (pronounced ee-ah’-chee)
Advancing the creative practice and study of the global arts across the disciplines.
WHAT A JOY TO VISIT DAR AL-HEKMA WOMAN'S COLLEGE
SCHOOL OF DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE IN JEDDAH ...
You may have become aware of this woman's college recently because
Dar Al-Hekma is the woman's college in Saudi Arabia where our Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton held a Town Hall Meeting a few weeks ago. Dr. Salfeha Abdein
is the Vice-Dean in charge of Institutional Development at Dar Al-Hekma and
is the person who slated the college as Secretary Clinton's site for her Town Hall
meeting while in Saudi Arabia. And I understand why! Like Secretary Clinton,
these are a m a z i n g women who run this university as brilliant scholars
and thinkers in their own right; such as Dr. Abedin who earned her Ph.D. at
Cambridge in Sociology. What a pleasure to meet Dr. Abedin and to have the
privilege of spending time with her.
My positive impressions didn't stop with Dr. Abedin however! This invitation
to present my work and to teach Experimental Animation to the girls at
Dar Al-Hekma came from an impressive Chair of the Design Department,
Professor Dima Schneider. Professor Schneider came to Dar Al-Hekma from
the American University in Beruit, Lebanon five years ago where she had taught
for thirteen years and since taking the reins in Jeddah, she has led
the Department of Design into a School of Design that is internationally
accredited through the UK/London. Yet another brilliant woman who's
background prior to Dar Al-Hekma was as a 3-D computer animation artist.
The faculty! A widely diverse and highly educated international faculty of artists,
graphic designers, and scholars from Poland, Lithuania, Portugal, America, and
Saudi Arabia. Do not misunderstand me here: not only highly educated, but
warm, inviting, humorous and supportive women who ROCK!
And the girls: twenty-one lovely young women in their black abayas who
impressed me with their intelligence and authentic desire to be introduced to
the history of experimental animation and to the creative practice of
experimental animation outside the digital environment: in this case,
an 'analogue' art of experimenting with animation that leaves the marks of
the artist's hands on the drawn images. These girls are the brightest of
undergrads, not unlike my terrific students in America! While the cultural
differences are enormous between the two, the love of learning and taking
intellectual risks remains constant.
Are you beginning to get the sense of this now? Of how delighted I was
to find myself invited to present in this cultural environment?
Finally (until I return to share photos with you), I presented the IIACI Institute
alongside my paintings, drawings, scholarship, and film, PARIS IS A WOMAN,
the final evening of the TAWASUL II Conference. The two keynote speakers
presented: myself and Monsieur Phillipe Jalladeau, a French filmmaker and
Film Festival Director who was the first film scholar to bring a Middle Eastern
Film Program to Europe many years ago. Jalladeau was educated in France
and majored in Oceanography as an undergrad but found himself at Princeton
for his graduate work in film with a post-grad stint at Stanford Film Institute
where he produced award winning films world-wide. Every morning while there
I delighted in his company while eating the absolutely delicious breakfasts at
the Hotel Intercontinental ... yummy fresh figs, salmon, and hummus.
While I am not speaking here specifically about the challenges of a Kingdom
that prohibits women from driving or from going out in public without covering
themselves or for even going out in public alone, I was not unaware of those
prohibitions. I was given a lovely abaya to wear while there and I wore it in
respect for a culture I, as a Westerner, was visiting. In this short visit to Saudi
Arabia, these prohibitions didn't deter from my sense of purpose towards
my academic colleagues and my students. IIACI and I were there to advance
the artist as a philosopher of creative intelligence, one whose necessity is to
access the intuitive and the intellectual simultaneously.
How longer visits to such a diverse international culture will challenge me
in the future remains to be seen, but I am quite clear on this visit:
an absolute delight!
Dr. Janeann Dill
IIACI: Institute Founder-Director