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(1974-1989 / 2018, 28 minutes)
Seven short experimental animated films by Jane Aaron.
Music & sound design by Donald Fagen; Larry Packer, Richard Grando & Steve Silverstein; Lee Dichter; and Andy Aaron.

Imaginative colorful drawings and fabricated objects are pixilated on location in New York City, Catskill Mountains, Lake Placid NY, Long Island, MacDowell Colony NH, San Francisco, and Death Valley CA. No digital or optical effects were used in filming.

Aaron’s experimental animations, compiled in the half-hour ”Aaronimation,“ are quintessentially cinematic. One frame at a time with her Bolex camera, the films explore qualities unique to pre-digital movie-making augmented by Jane's own handmade production tools and techniques. The works capture an era of 16mm filmmaking that is now frozen in history by obsolescence of the film medium.

Viewed as a series, the viewer observes and understands the development of an artist’s techniques from one idea to the next, over several years. Each film is a gallery exhibition of individual shots as separate works of art animating in different ways. They are filmed with various animation experiments and in a variety of intriguing interior and exterior locations, yet they share a clear commonality of the artist’s taste, style and thinking. The films’ experimental soundtracks of commissioned music and audio effects mixes were collaborations with musicians Larry Packer, Richard Grando, Steve Silverstein, and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, and sound designers Lee Dichter and Jane's brother Andy Aaron.

The films, on the web http://www.ExperimentalAnimationsbyJaneAaron.vhx.tv, have been seen on PBS, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, The Learning Channel, and TV networks internationally; in many museum permanent collections, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Walker Art Center and Exploratorium; in public screenings around the world, including Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial and Museum of Modern Art Cineprobe; Animation Festivals in Annecy, Zagreb, Ottawa, Bristol, and Hiroshima; and the New York, London, Edinburgh, Sydney, Telluride and Tribeca Film Festivals, and many others.

 

“A Brand New Day”

(1974, 3 min) Music: Larry Packer & Richard Grando
Awards: Sinking Creek Film Festival.
Screenings: Zagreb Animation Festival, Films in the Park (NYC).

Annie Mae starts her day with fanciful looks out her window, and then reality sets in. The artist’s first film animation was drawn with colored pencils on registration paper and filmed frame-by-frame on an animation stand camera.

“In Plain Sight”

(1977, 3 min) Music: Richard Grando, Larry Packer, & Steve Silverstein
Awards: Zagreb Animation Festival, Chicago & Marin County Film Festivals, ASIFA (international animation society).
Screenings: New York Film Festival, Filmex.

A collection of Aaron's early experiments combining live-action and animation. Jane’s Bolex steps back from the animation stand to go outside to animate everyday objects, grease pencil frames, and drawings on a registration bar; including on the windshield of a car that is moving down the road one frame at a time. The experimental process and hand of the artist (not to mention occasional reflections in pixilating mirrors) are clearly exposed on screen.

“Interior Designs”

(1980, 5 min)
Awards: Atlanta & Ann Arbor Film Festivals.
Screenings: Annecy and Ottawa Animation Festivals, Short Film Showcase, WNET.

A journey through the filmmaker's world (and imagination), from the intimacy of her bedroom and studio to the southern California desert and Adirondack mountains. Pixilated drawings are filmed on location in live action settings, making us aware of the limitless extent of our own imagination and that the whole world is susceptible to Jane’s animation.

“Remains To Be Seen”

(1983, 4 min) Sound mix: Lee Dichter
Awards: American, Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Baltimore, Sinking Creek Film Festivals.
Screenings: Annecy Animation Festival, Edinburgh, Telluride, San Francisco, & Filmex Film Festivals, WNET, PBS’s ”Declaration of Independents.”

Aaron’s drawn imaginary world is seen visually and physically embedded in the real world. All animation, with drawings ranging from 2 inches to over six feet, is filmed on location at the beach, the mountains, at the MacDowell Colony artists’ retreat (she called this her "MacDowell movie"), and various stylish interiors.

“Traveling Light”

(1985, 2½ min) Music: Donald Fagen
Awards: Stuttgart Animation Festival, Marin County & Sinking Creek Film Festivals.
Screenings: Whitney Biennial, Hirshhorn Museum, Annecy Animation Festival, New York, London, Sydney, & Oberhausen Film Festivals.

Taking weeks of frame-by-frame filming, the movie appears to be time-lapsed light over the course of a day moving across colorful interiors in an Amagansett house, until the visual punch line reveals the simple but witty artfulness and impressive attention to detail.

“Set in Motion”

(1986, 4 min) Music: Donald Fagen
Awards: Hiroshima Animation Festival, Marin County Film Festival.
Screenings: Museum of Modern Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Zagreb Animation Festival, Telluride and New York Film Festivals, Showtime, HBO, WNET, Danish TV, Canal +.

Filmed in Aaron’s home studio on Reade Street in Tribeca. a rhythmic free-flowing vision of captured moments from daily life culminates in a visual punch line... the overwhelming accumulation of clutter from the day (and from making this movie).

“This Time Around”

(1989, 3 min) Music: Donald Fagen
Screenings: Whitney Biennial, Annecy Animation Festival, New York & USA Film Festivals, PBS’s “Alive From Off Center.”

The camera breathlessly traverses landscapes and whirls into abstraction, all the while eye-ing fanciful foreground objects of domestic life doing their own dizzy dervish choreography, until the hand of the artist reveals the true scale. Just out of camera view are Aaron’s hand-made rigs that guide the dynamic movement.

“American Pixilation Dance Theatre presents”

(by Jane Aaron and Skip Blumberg, 1975, 3 min)

Alice Wexler, Skip Blumberg and Jane Aaron (in order of appearance) perform impossible choreography, antic stunts and magical tricks for a pixilating 16mm Bolex camera on location at Stony Clove Notch Pond in the heart of the Catskill Mountains.

Jane Aaron, Skip Blumberg, Donald Fagen - Century's End

"Century’s End"

(by Jane Aaron and Skip Blumberg, music Donald Fagen, 1988, 4:15)

Music video for the end credit soundtrack song in Hollywood feature film “Bright Lights, Big City.” The wry lyrics and visual narrative comment on our past when it was the future. Songwriter/singer, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, did not want to appear on screen nor to include clips from the movie. Like other music videos of the time, experimental techniques are used to reveal the visual story of romance at the end of the twentieth century. Aaron’s animated hand-drawn and scratch-on-film high-contrast mattes were designed for the beat, the back beat and the second line, with a bar-by-bar storyboard to reveal the live action, and filmed on an animation stand then transferred to video. This process allowed techniques that were innovative at the time before digital effects. Skip Blumberg collaborated and directed the live action, with sweeping NYC long shots and crowded nightclub dance floor choreography.

Jane Aaron - Academy Leader Variations

“Academy Leader Variations”

(Produced by David Ehrlich, 1987, 5:40)

Jane is among twenty animators from the U.S., Switzerland, Poland and the People’s Republic of China, who present their fanciful versions of the "academy leader", the standard filmstock at the beginning of each reel of a movie that counts down the seconds 8-7-6-5-4-3-2, expressing international friendship and their shared love of animation. Jane’s countdown combines techniques seen in “Set in Motion” and “Traveling Light.”