“Stan VanDerBeek is the Tom Swift of the underground, an inventor of processes and approaches. He is also a collagist, a collisionist and like Georges Méliès, whom he claims as godfather, an illusionist. His earliest films such as What Who How, are animated collages, his midway films such as Breathdeath are collages of film technique and his latest works including Environmental Movie-Drome, are collages of media.”
UBUWeb have just put up 15 films by Stan VanDerBeek on their website. This is a wonderful collection of some of his most important works. VanDerBeek is often cited as one of the pioneers of computer animation and multimedia art and his musings can be watched here on the topic. I recently sat down for a viewing of some of his earlier works, Science Friction and A La Mode which are pertinent films in regards to the history of motion graphic technique. The use of collage and cut out, mixed with bold graphic elements, drawn animation and video are akin to the Beat Generation and Monty Python, indeed Terry Gilliam has been quoted to mention VanDerBeek as a huge inspiration. That inspiration remains strong to this day. There a hundreds of motion graphic pieces that draw from this technique, a good majority of which I’m sure have little conscious thought for this man’s achievements fifty years earlier. At the time of creating Science Friction, VanDerBeek was trying to evolve what he calles a “litera-graphic image, an international sign language of fantasy and satire. There is a social literature through filmic pantomime, that is, non-verbal comedy satire; a ‘comic-ominous’ image that pertains to our time and interests which Hollywood and the commercial cinema are ignoring.”
The graphic image has become an international sign. A system of signs that are being used for means of visual communication whether it be political, commercial, educational or cultural. Some more comedy satire though is in dire need for today’s serious matters. More satire please, more satire !