I first saw Luca Dipierro’s work in an animation he’d made for a book of short stories by Dawn Raffel. It was a stop motion video based on a story in which a young woman and her father try to find their car in a parking lot one night in winter. The wind off the lake is sharp; it burns their ears. The parking lot is almost empty. Suddenly the father says, “Now I remember. We’re not here.”
There is a weirdness in Dipierro’s work that is also in that line of dialogue. To say, “We’re not here,” is something that can only be true if it means something else. Because of course they are there. We can only be where we are. What the father really means, in that instance, is: “Our car’s not here.” But if he’d been allowed to say it like that – so matter-of-factly – something incongruous would have been missing.
Luca Dipierro in front of "Foreverland", a storefront he painted in North Carolina
The words were Raffel’s, and they stayed with me, but so did the animation, which was simple and precise, yet full of a strange and frightening wonder. The characters had heads that looked too real, or not real enough. An ordinary object, like a woman’s handbag, seemed capable of more than it ought to be capable of. After I saw that animation, I looked for other work by Dipierro. I saw that he was working on an art zine called Das Ding, which is German for ‘The Thing’. So far there have been three issues. Each issue, wrapped in a cellophane envelope, is a beautiful paper object with words and drawings. They remind me of little dreams; they are always about something, but it is difficult to describe what. Their characters and creatures often find themselves in trouble, and either they get out of that trouble or they do not. Or maybe what you think is trouble, for them, turns out to be something else.
You can find Das Ding here. Below is a conversation I had with Dipierro. Continue reading
This is what I get for no longer following the FRAMEWORKS mailing list. Robert Breer was never a household name, but he was an awesome animator and underground experimental filmmaker whose work I always enjoyed. His short film “Swiss Army Knight with Rats and Pigeons” (1980) deserves to be regarded as a classic for its name alone:
More of his work after the jump.
“Blade Runner replicants” (2007). Photo by comiquero (Flickr). Reposted in accordance with Creative Commons Licensing.
For a long time I’ve held an ambiguous attitude toward geek culture, and ultra-fandom. On the one hand, it’s painfully disturbing how much time some people lavish over recreating their favorite fantasy franchises, whether they while away the hours writing fan-fiction, painting fan-art, sewing cosplay costumes, compiling guides to their favorite shows and films and comics, or attending cons (or all of the above). On the other—color me naive, but these selfsame individuals often display genuine creativity, acquiring and utilizing practical skills (writing, painting, sewing, editing, socializing) in order to express their fanaticism. They admirably distinguish themselves from other, more passive consumers—and sometimes they make truly wonderful things.
Fan-fiction, and fan-art, and cosplay, and conventions, are understood to be deceptively complex, and worthwhile subjects of scholarship. Now we’ve finally reached a point, I’d like to argue, where fan-made cinema has become genuinely interesting, and deserving of critical attention.