Devotees will be aware of my attraction to the works of Harry Smith. These abstract works, such as his series of Early Abstractions, are amazing pieces of composition. it is rare to find another filmmaker who can draw out so much resounance from a piece of abstract animation, but I am happy to say Montreal's Sunny Stanila has managed to go Harry Smith one better.
On My Mind begins with a blot of paint on a black background. From there, we are greated with a series of interactions between painted masses, brushstrokes clear evident as Helen Frankenthaler, or Cy Twombly. There are lines, appearing like chalk, and then snaking, tumbling, writhing together. There is not a narrative, and there doesn't need to be on. We are watching a set of images dance. They solo, they pair, but they are not serving a narrative master: they are giving impressions, expressions, intimations. It is not a meditative pieces, but instead an aspirational piece. It is meant to make you feel that you've brought something to the process and are forced to deploy it at the work.
THe vibrancy of the created images are only enhanced by how they seem to vibrate, breathe, shift under an unseen weight. The painterly quality of the piece is evident, influenced certainly by the Abstract Expressionists, and perhaps as much by the Impressionists. Her work feels as if Dali and Leger met up with Manet and Hans Hoffman.
Where On My Mind certainly does over-take Smith's works is in the matter of determinist sound design. Smith's work was designed to play with various tunes, and here, Stanila certainly designs an incredible soundscape that both informs the imagery, but also gives space for the images to live on their own.
This is a phenomenal work, and one that I hope will make the festival rounds. Sunny's work is worthy of consideration by those of us who live in both the festival and museum worlds.
Klaus at Gunpoint
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