You are here: Home // Videos // Eyeworks: LMNO

Eyeworks: LMNO

This is the second installation of an ongoing series of articles by Alexander Stewart and Lilli Carré, founders of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation. 

Robert Breer. LMNO (film still), 1978.

As mentioned in our first post on Sally Cruikshank, when we launched the Eyeworks Festival, we kept the work of two filmmakers in mind to define a spectrum of animation that we were interested in. The second is avant-garde filmmaker Robert Breer, whose career making animated films spans nearly fifty years.

Breer’s work is bright, energetic, playful, and uses traditional animation techniques to achieve avant-garde effects.  His films flirt with perspective, figures, and recognizable objects. At the same time, it engages with the irreducible elements of cinema in the manner of a Modernist film artist: the screen as an essentially flat surface, the relationship between still images and motion, and the synchronization between sound and image. Some of his favorite tools,  rotoscoping (tracing over live action) using spray paint, looping small fragments, scrambling the order of short bursts of animation, and using collaged environmental recordings as soundtracks, are clear influences on filmmakers like Stuart Hilton and the “MTV style” of the late 80’s. Related to MTV, Breer’s collaboration with William Wegman on the music video for New Order’s track Blue Monday ’88 is a wonderful summary of that certain zeitgeist.

The piece we chose to feature here is LMNO from 1978, which we included in the 2011 Eyeworks Festival. It seems like an under-appreciated gem from Breer’s filmography and shows off a particularly cartoony sensibility amid the unrelenting kinetic energy and avant-garde moves. To make a list of recognizable images in the film is to get a hint of what it’s about: a breakfast table, a man slipping on a banana peel and then being run over by a train, various small animals, backyard leisure activities, a man falling, and so on. The title has a certain Dada quality to it, which resonates with the elegantly anarchic spirit present in Breer’s films. Like most of Breer’s work, LMNO is absolutely mesmerizing and absorbing when seen as a film print in a theater. There, the individual frames pop crisply, and the mind can wander and make intuitive connections within the film.

In the summer of 2012, we were fortunate enough to see one of Breer’s kinetic sculptures as part of the Ghosts in the Machine show at the New Museum. Breer’s piece was the highlight of the sprawling exhibition for us; a large white fiberglass gumdrop on concealed motorized wheels, drifting slowly around the gallery like something out of a sci-fi film. His mobile sculptures, called “floats,” capture the same balance of a serious art practice and honest delight that we love about his films.

Watch LMNO here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2010 Sixty Inches From Center, All rights reserved.