One of today’s leading experimental animation filmmakers and artist Martha Colburn, was invited to SIFF 5: Cracking Up, to offer a focus on animation through two carte blanche programs (including some of her own films) and the open animation workshop “Frantic Frames.” Animation is an especially ripe site for “Cracking Up,” known historically and today for taking up a myriad of the term’s meanings all at once, often in only a few short minutes. In the artist’s own words: “Magnetic tape, charcoal, paint, dolls, toys, magazine cut-outs, TV static, fire, drawings and more are made into films. Using ‘hands-on’ techniques — not excluding computers — these film artists (myself included) make their work out of materials they find interesting and which can make their imaginary Worlds come alive. Their ‘Crack’dness’ is whimsical, fun, full of songs and dances and above all completely melting-down while burning-up simultaneously.”
The Frantic Frames animation workshop led to the creation of the short film Lost at Syros. Animators: Ivan & Antoine Pericoli, Katherina & Frederikos Trumpf, Ioanna Mitza, Michaiel Matthes, Anastasia Diavasti, Christiana Chiranagnostaki, Geli Mademli, Irini Kafourou, Petrina Petraki, Eleni Loukou, Nuno Cassola, Teresa Berbe Rene.
The world only exists in your eyes – your conception of it. You can make it as big or as small as you want to. And you’re trying to be a little puny individual. By God, if I ever cracked, I’d try to make the world crack with me.” This is a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald in his book The Crack-Up, and I use it as an introduction to this program because it addresses the idea of our conception of reality and the idea of bringing others with us as we ‘Crack Up.’
From WWII veterans to pioneers of Post-Modernism, to toxic media avengers, these film artists and animators use their craft to express their inner madness and wreak havoc on or re-order the ‘outer chaos.’ Drifting spirits of the dead meet worlds made up of lines and rhythm; invented techniques from Jeff Scher’s Psychadelichrome to the self-built Hellitron tone generators of Ian Helliwell; obsessive and illogical creations… These are a few of the elements employed by artists in these programs to express the necessity of art. Art is necessary to maintain their balance with the World around and within them. Sometimes this demands invention, appropriation, burning toys – as in the case of Jeff Keen’s 1960’s filmic melt-down of popular culture – drawing and erasing, painting, collaging images by the thousands (2,000, 5,000, 14,000), the numbers are unfathomable. The obsessive nature of animation could be seen as a record of the creator’s sanity – the resulting film – or as a record of insanity, or crack’dness. Not for those devoid of patience, the art of animation is a testament to the creators’ desire to create an alternate world, though never forget- ting their ties to history. The film Chateau/Poyet by Larry Jordan brings to life the etchings of French artist Jean Poyet (1465–1503); Norman McLaren brings to life lines of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre; and Selina Trepp looks to the future and creates antidotes for our sickened toxic environment.”
— Martha Colburn