Back to Calendar

Materials Lab Workshop: Direct Animation & Cameraless Filmmaking


Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

Amid the devastation following World War II, German artists and filmmakers engaged in technical experimentation that drew upon multiple media as they sought to redefine the nature of artistic practice and its relationship to national identity. Among these experimental forms was cameraless animation, a method of abstract filmmaking that involves the direct manipulation of film through scratching, puncturing, painting, and chemical alteration of emulsion. A short animation by Ernst Wilhelm Nay, an artist featured in our special exhibition Inventur—Art in Germany 1943–55, was included in Herbert Seggelke’s film Eine Melodie—vier Maler, an artistic documentary compiling four artists’ cameraless interpretations of J. S. Bach’s Polonaise.

In this workshop, Grant Hamming, the Inga Maren Otto Curatorial Fellow in the museums’ Division of Academic and Public Programs, and Jessica Bardsley, filmmaker and Ph.D. candidate in film and visual studies at Harvard, will offer an overview of the historical and technical contexts of such experimental films. Participants will view a sampling of direct animation films, then experiment with a range of cameraless animation techniques on 16mm film to create their own visual segments inspired by a musical score. The experience will emphasize and exploit the material properties of a variety of film stocks. Participants will have the opportunity to edit and splice animated segments into a collaborative film sequence.

The workshop is part of a series of direct animation and cameraless filmmaking workshops offered throughout the spring. All of the animations by participants in the workshops will be combined to create a short film showcasing the breadth and depth of creativity inspired by the medium, and will be screened in Menschel Hall on May 3, 2018, with live musical accompaniment.

This program was developed with assistance from members of the AgX Film Collective, an artist-run film lab and collective for moving image artists in the Boston area. It is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition Inventur—Art in Germany 1943–55, on view at the Harvard Art Museums from February 9 to June 3, 2018.

The event will be held in the Materials Lab, Lower Level.

$15 materials fee. Registration is required and payment must be made in advance. Please email or stop by the museums’ admissions desk to register. Space is limited to 15 participants. Minimum age of 14.

Major support for the Inventur exhibition and related programming is provided by the German Friends of the Busch-Reisinger Museum (Verein der Freunde des Busch-Reisinger Museums), the Daimler Curatorship of the Busch-Reisinger Museum Fund, the M. Victor Leventritt Fund, and the Richard L. Menschel Endowment Fund. In addition, modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.