There's a world where 

I can go and 

tell my secrets to

In my room

In my room  

- Brian Wilson and Gary Usher

 

  

Dear Lew,

You and I have led almost parallel lives, two 1950’s New York suburban Jewish boys, each creating secret worlds in the privacy of our rooms, with burgeoning, pop-infused imaginations at constant play. We were mesmerized by the same comic books, bought the same 45’s and 33’s, listened to the same AM and FM disc jockeys, watched the same TV shows (united with everyone else when the world shifted on 2/9/64), went to the same Saturday matinees (sci-fi, fantasy and horror) and saw the same Million Dollar Movies over and over. Alas, we seem to have parted ways with the Yanks and Mets…but that’s NY, too.

And then, lo and behold, we end up in this same, strange business of studying experimental film at Binghamton and Buffalo Babylon respectively, eventually making, exhibiting and teaching film ourselves. Indeed, our so-called “minor” cinema group (thanks to you and Tom) went on to have “major” careers. But our shared roots in our “scenes from under childhood” always stayed with us, working its way through the metaphorical languages we each created and developed in this extraordinary medium. Your films spoke to me immediately, as I was already pre-wired for them.

 

Musing now about your remarkable career, I’m most struck how ideas of agency and fate play out in your films, and how they are ultimately made manifest by your very peculiar and signature sense of rhythm and movement in the mysterious and foreboding mise-en-scénes. Whereas most animators seek to imbue their characters with the illusion of willful movement and free agency, independent of the maker, your characters’ faces and bodies (along with accompanying objects, and backgrounds) always carry with them their original contexts. Their cutout poses remain frozen in time from the from the original source materials, even while the world around them is changing and things seem to be moving around slowly within the magnetic fields of every beautifully framed composition. When they “move” in that impossible to imitate, anti-animation Klahrian cadence, they seem existentially compelled to do so, no choice in the matter, as if in a deep trance, without real agency of their own. They are aesthetic pawns in a masterful game. One senses, like Daffy did in “Duck Amuck,” that there is a prime mover at work here, an “overseer” if you will, who is busy at work pulling all the strings behind the scenes and between the frame snaps, and that there is ultimately a master plan, an unseen hand of fate, guiding us, if not them, toward revelation.



And it’s yours.

with love and admiration,

P