Animation Station!


It’s hard to believe that nineteen Art-A-Whirls have gone by since the first one, in 1996. I almost missed that first Art-A-Whirl, but my state representative, Diane Loeffler, suggested I go and maybe do some videotaping. So I went out on the last day of that first Art-A-Whirl and asked a few people who they were and what was going on. I managed to run into several of the founders of the event, and I saw that those quietly large industrial buildings in my neighborhood were full of life and activity.

This year, Debbie Woodward, the building manager of one of those buildings, the Northrup King, gave me the opportunity to use a space on the second floor of that building, right in the heart of the Northeast Arts District. I set up my Animation Station in that space for all three days of Art-A-Whirl. I had it in my mind to make a celebration of the twenty years of that event with short vignettes based on some of the words Art-A-Whirl brings to my mind.

The wood floor of the Northrup King Building was the stage for the Animation Station, with a camera in the ceiling and a projector to cast the moving image of what we were making on the wall. By placing paper cutouts on the floor, taking a picture, moving them a little and taking another picture, we could slowly make magic, we could bring those things to life.

Over fifteen hours during the three days of Art-A-Whirl I worked with dozens of people to take nearly 2,000 pictures to make this three-minute movie. Some people stopped by for a while to watch, some made props and letters out of paper, some helped me animate them, some animated themselves lying on the floor, some did all of the above.

I had a word for each year, but didn’t really know what would happen for each section until a new wave of people came by to make something and animate it with me. It was a fun combination of structure and improvisation.

It was an amazing Whirl of a weekend, and here is the video we made, and also my video of that first year of Art-A-Whirl.