Category Archives: animation

Introducing Stan Vanderbeek


Symmetrics (music credits anyone? Possibly Ravi Shankar?)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned American experimental filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek (1927 – 1984) on this blog. Today, I found his Symmetrics[1] of 1972 on YouTube. Vanderbeek is one of those artists I discovered in the post-internet days. Before the advent of YouTube this usually meant reading about him only, apart from the occasional still one might find on the net, such as this[2] very nice one.

Actually seeing Vanderbeek’s output on YouTube has proven to be very rewarding, especially after my disappointment in seeing much-read-about works Wavelength[3] by Michael Snow (born 1929) and that other overrated “structural filmSerene Velocity[4] by Ernie Gehr (born 1943).

These two last ones are deadly serious and devoid of any sense of humor; works such as Achooo Mr. Kerrooschev (1960) [5] by Vanderbeek are anything but that.

Click the numbers to see, hear.

If you like the work of Vanderbeek, you may also enjoy Len Lye.

The Munchers: a Fable (1973) by Art Pierson


The Munchers: a Fable (1973) by Art Pierson

This clip is somewhat of a mystery. Supposedly directed by Arthur P. Pierson, the film nor the director are listed at imdb. The showed both films during the 2000s:

  • Munchers: A Fable’ (1973) 10m, dir. Art Pierson. Clay and polymer tooth puppets bring decay to life.
  • ‘Whazzat?’ (1975) 10m, dir. Art Pierson. Here, nondescript clay figures attempt to identify an elephant.

I cannot track any info on this remarkable little film by Arthur P. Pierson. If you know more, please let me know. A further hint is this description of ‘Whazzat?’.

A reappraisal of Amélie

I had seen Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain in the winter of 2001 when it came out in theatres in Belgium and had not taken to it because of its faux happiness and its European hollywoodity. I’ve seen it again today and I think it is time for a reappraisal. This clever film shows a unique understanding of visual and auditory culture. It is told by an omniscient narrator* in an extremely writerly and accomplished style.**

The visuals and the score from Yann Tiersen are virtually symbiotic. One peep show scene features music from French house musician Alex Gopher‘s “The Child” (1999) (“them that’s got, shall get”). I wanted to give you the Kenny Dope remix (the one actually featured in Amélie). In stead, here Youtube is a slower version with many intrusive voices but interesting visuals (animation made out of typography by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet). If you badly need the Kenny Dope remix, buy Beats & Pieces vol. 2 on the highly recommended series out on BBE Records.

*On the omniscient narrator, see scenes in the recent film Stranger Than Fiction in which Dustin Hoffman teaches a whole seminar on the omniscient narrator phrase par excellence “little did he know”, illustrating the excesses of literary theory.

** Films such as Reconstruction (which I liked immensely) owe a lot to the Ameliesque aesthetic.

Free Radicals


Scrub to 3:30 for immediate access to Free Radicals (an instant dance music classic)

The phrase “free radical” got stuck in my head, and Googling for it brought up a 1958 film by New Zealand experimental filmmaker Len Lye, titled Free Radicals. The film features white ‘chalk’ lines constantly moving on a black background with African drums (‘a field tape of the Bagirmi tribe’) playing throughout. The film won second prize out of 400 entries in an International Experimental Film Competition judged by Man Ray, Norman McLaren, Alexander Alexeieff and others, at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. In 1979 Lye further condensed this already very concentrated film by dropping a minute of footage. Stan Brakhage described the final version as “an almost unbelievably immense masterpiece (a brief epic)’. I could not agree more.


Ubu et la grande gidouille (1987) – Jan Lenica

Ubu et la grande gidouille is a 1987 French language feature animation film by Jan Lenica based on the work of Alfred Jarry.

From the excellent collection of experimental films by Youtube user TheMotionBrigades, from which { feuilleton }, culled to report on Karel Zeman. Also check, from the same collection, new work by Walerian Borowczyk  such as Encyclopedia de Grand Maman.

Classical music identification request


Rubber nipples episode of Ren and Stimpy


The piece I’d like to pin down starts at 26 seconds into this clip. Thanks! It’s not here.


I found it!


The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Very much in the vein of Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy.


Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy.