Pittsburgh's Avant-Garde - Anxious Optics: The Experimental Animations of Paul Glabicki

Apr 11


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Wed, Apr 11

Pittsburgh’s Avant-Garde is a micro-cinema series exploring rarely seen works, and honoring Filmmakers’ legacy as a hub for artistic experimentation and innovation. The events are free and open to all audiences. 

The third and final installment of the Pittsburgh’s Avant-Garde microcinema series is Anxious Optics: The Experimental Animations of Paul Glabicki, curated by Ben Ogrodnik. This program offers a wide selection of rarely seen, 16mm animated shorts from the 1970s-1990s, and featuring work by renowned artists Robert Breer, Barry Spinello, Paul Sharits, Paul Glabicki, and Adam Beckett.

The screening will be followed by a lively conversation between Bill Judson, former curator of the Carnegie Museum of Art Film and Video Department; Paul Glabicki, animator, painter, collagist, and digital artist; and discussion moderator Ben Ogrodnik, PhD candidate in Film Studies at University of Pittsburgh.

** Warning: This screening contains works with psychedelic imagery and stroboscopic flicker effects, which may induce seizures in some viewers. **

Anxious Optics highlights the dizzying career of Paul Glabicki, a Pittsburgh-based animator and Guggenheim recipient, working at the intersection of painting, drawing, and film. Since his earliest explorations of single-frame animation in the 1970s, his work has been deemed edgy, anxious --and not for the faint of heart. Glabicki’s cerebral animation style is characterized by complex layerings of imagery and sound, combining abstract and figurative form. Each film is composed of individual hand-drawn frames with hundreds of colliding geometric forms, diagrams, lines and arcs, creating a “visual frenzy” for the spectator’s eye. Glabicki, who had a brief stint in the commercial sector by doing high-profile commissions for Absolut vodka and MTV, also made revolutionary animations on a primitive Amiga computer. Today, he is recognized as an early pioneer in the field of computer-based installation art.

Series III widens the focus to the community of artists investigating film alongside Glabicki, situating him in the pioneering “New York School” animators of the 1970s and 1980s who championed abstraction over photorealism, structure and shape over spontaneous creation. Among them, Robert Breer, originally trained as a painter, made works of “kinetic collage.” His 1954 film Recreation is a rapid montage of different “found” objects, 24 frames-per-second. Paul Sharits, a practitioner of Fluxus and Pop Art, blended precise structure with instances of shocking figurative imagery. His influential film, T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, 1968, alternates rhythmic patterns of pure color with single frames of eye surgery and sexual penetration. In the words of Annette Michelson, “this is the film of someone who lived through violent periods of his culture.”

Recreation. Robert Breer. 1954.
Colored Relations. Barry Spinello. 1970.
T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G,. Paul Sharits. 1968.
Diagram Film. Paul Glabicki. 1978.
Evolution of the Red Star. Adam Beckett. 1973.
Scanning. Paul Glabicki. 1976.
Under the Sea. Paul Glabicki. 1989.
Red Fence [excerpt]. Paul Glabicki. 1999.