Lawrence Jordan, peaking in his seventh decade, shares tricks of his very unique cut-out animation trade.
By Kevin B. Lee
At an energetic 78, Lawrence Jordan may be riding the peak of his career. A major underground film figure since the ’60s (he co-founded the indispensable filmmakers co-op Canyon Cinema), Jordan has amassed a stunning body of work over the decades, with his pioneering collage animations holding firm as his signature creations. While films like Duo Concertantes, Our Lady of the Sphere and Orb made him a solid fixture on the experimental scene, his recent works like Enid’s Idyll, Beyond Enchantment and Solar Sight (his first to use color photographs) show him as joyfully engaged as ever in vision quests. As Michael Atkinson wrote on Keyframe earlier this year, “Nobody’s films come packing so many spontaneous ecstatic moments, in a recognizably and rapturously gorgeous context as Jordan’s.”
Earlier this month Jordan travelled to Chicago to present his work at the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. This video essay is a lively record of the latter event, where Jordan not only answered questions about his work but demonstrated it in real time, using an animator’s table to show how he manipulates his beloved cut-outs of vintage engravings to create dream-like, free-associational sequences of motion and sound. He talks about how his working process with cut-outs and music, acknowledges the influence of artist Max Ernst on his work and explains why there are so many butterflies populating his imagescapes.
Kevin B. Lee is Editor in Chief of IndieWire’s PressPlay Video Blog, Video Essayist for Fandor’s Keyframe, and a contributor to Roger Ebert.com.