Appendages

1937 marked the release of the first fully-animated feature film. Appendages is a study of the moment preceding this milestone, where rigid departments of film labor separated women from men. The production of cell animation in the early days of the American studio system is really a story of gender lines and both an invitation for women to partake in the filmmaking process and a prevention of them advancing professionally beyond entry-level departments. Appendages brings together this site of animation labor and the action of a Starfish character (pulled from The Walt Disney Studio’s 1937 short film, Hawaiian Holiday) reproducing photo-mechanically at an uncontrollable rate. The screen is eventually swarmed; the Starfish paralyzed in full gallop, perverted from the natural world but desperate to realign itself against the celerity of entertainment’s working hours.

The film’s structure moves in and out of the Ink & Painter’s POV as she renders the Starfish form on celluloid sheets. In this space, the five-armed debutant is still, reified in a trademark studio animation style. Like loose frames of time, these cells catch rhythm under the multiplane camera and begin to play out in animation screen tests where physical distortions of animal mobility and behavior become more real than the marine life its gummy form is based on. The whirling of film projectors accompanies the rising and falling of the overlaid cell painting. In stride, the video’s climax recalls imagery and sonics a la Ornette Coleman’s Skies of America, whereas ambient moments of relative stillness over the desk on Hyperion Avenue neutralize a fugitivity of mechanized life. The Starfish body is divided, an occupant for the slippery assembly of the extranatural.

HD Stereo, 2023

Animator (Cast): Sarah Lancaster

Add’l Animation: Jake Hollander

Composer: Nick Flessa

Score Mix: Kern Haug

Poster: Mario Luna

Screenings & Exhibitions Coming Soon