Monday, June 29, 2009
Studio visit Martha Colburn
The stop-motion animator takes a brief pause.
By T.J. Carlin
Can you talk about how you make your work, and especially how you come up with your narratives?
I study my topics closely for a year or two, and the scenes take shape. I read historical documents, poetry, watch specific films, talk to people and daydream a lot. In my recent stop-action war film Triumph of the Wild, I take apart 400 years of battles in ten minutes. The film is about lessons not learned and the redemption and regeneration of the human spirit in war. It’s about the invisible line between man and animal. I think it was Hemingway who once said the biggest game is man.
This setup you have here with pieces of glass and cutouts—is that for your films?
Yes, it’s assembled out of found things, mostly, and it’s a 2-and-a-half-D stop-action-animation stand. It’s three layers of auto glass screwed vertically on a table with space between for my hands to reach in and move the artwork, and above it are scrolls and wires hanging for aerial action. Flat paper puppets and other stuff float on the glass and in the air by means of “magic,” and I film it frame by frame on 16mm.
You also make paintings, installations, Polaroids, etc. What’s the relationship, for you, between that approach to working and animation?
All of the work I make gets sucked into or is a result of my stop-action films. My material has a specific order informed by its journey through the films. Some things survive, others not. Sometimes, I’ll make a stunt-double version of a paper puppet (or five) which can suffer any number of mutilations, while leaving the “star” unscathed. Just like in reality, only in paper.
You often incorporate live performance into the screening of your films. When did you start doing this and why?
I’ve been doing live shows with shadows and color filters and multiprojector shows since the mid-’90s. When I’m filming, I’m working at a rate of, like, one second of film per hour. When I finish, I want to create in real time, or even better: double real time, and be my animated “self.” I call together my musician friends who work on my soundtracks, and we play together. When I show in some small town, I’ll invite a high-school band or random people to play.
What do you have upcoming that you are excited about?
I’m excited about my next film, of course! I’ll enjoy my summer inside making art for my next film in wonderful “Asthma Alley,” otherwise known as Long Island City (no thank you, Con Edison).
Colburn’s work is on view in “White Noise” at James Cohan Gallery.
Geplaatst door anonymous op Monday, June 29, 2009