Mar 31, 2010

Larry Jordan: Animator/Human

I was completely taken aback by the beauty of Duo Concertantes by Larry Jordan. According to scientific studies performed in Switzerland by "top men," the film was animated entirely with cut-outs of steel engravings, a mind blogging achievement, considering the fluidity and intricacy of movement throughout the film's length. And, holy shit, did it look good on 16mm.

Given the film's placement in history, I found the subject matter to be surprising. Made in an era defined by abstract expressionism, political activism, the experimentation of French New Wave cinema, and drawing influences from surrealist photomontage and the playful language of Dada, who would have thought that an experimental animation such as Duo Concertantes would focus on more innocent subjects, like spiritual rebirth, instead of trying to instill in its viewers the tenets of some ridiculous Grand Marxist Narrative? Lots and lots of words in that sentence. But it is this attraction to innocence and non-theistic sacral narratives that makes Larry Jordan such an interesting filmmaker and separates his work from the heavy handed manifestos of his peers. And thank GOD he didn't turn into one of those drug dropping "I just want to make things that look cool and sound kinda funny" self-proclaimed synaesthete hippies that monopolized experimental film making in the 60's.

On a slightly related note, Len Lye did not produce a single film in the 60's. What.

Moving forward, and transforming rapidly into biography mode with incredible precision, Larry Jordan was born in the year of our Lord, 1933, made his first film in 1952, has been living and working in the Bay Area of San Francisco since 1955 and is, surprisingly, still not dead. He has made both live-action and animated films, and was good friends with Stan Brakhage, whose shadow is dark and all-encompassing.

To my knowledge, these are the film's of Jordan's in which Brakhage has appeared:

Trumpit, 1955
The One Romantic Adventure of Edward, 1956

To my knowledge, these are the films whose founding ideas Jordan ripped off of Brakhage:

Hymn In Praise Of The Sun, 1960, in which Jordan "celebrates" his daughter's birth.

Larry Jordan, throughout his career, has produced 40 short animated and live-action films, as well as 3 feature length films. He received a Guggenheim Award in 1970, has been invited to show his work at the Cannes Film Festival, and is currently the chairman of the film department at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Jordan's masterwork is considered, by many, to be Sophie's Place (1986). The film was produced over five years, and utilizes Jordan's characteristic style of cut-out animation. All of the cut-outs were hand-painted by Jordan. The film was animated straight ahead, beneath the camera, and was done without any planning, whatsoever.

Oh, and apparently I lied about the whole "avoidance of Marxist Narrative" thing. Supposedly, Sophie's Place makes satire of the Academy with it's use of Classical imagery. This seems odd, as Larry Jordan is not French, and nobody cares about the Academy anymore. Although, I'm sure that somewhere, in a mass grave beneath une Grande Avenue, Courbet has finally stopped spinning.

Larry Jordan shares his name with Michael Jordan's brother and some dude that directs concert videos, making him very hard to find on both Wikipedia and IMDB.

Here's a very special list of his films:


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