Multiplication, Condensation and Displacement, 2014 is the first work in a delirious cosmological narrative that explores the relationship between WWII, music vernacular, fashion - specifically the zoot suit, and Mexican artist influence in art history and U.S. sub subcultural formations. These artist include Miguel Covarrubias and Jorge Posada while linking Betty Boop’s Snow White (1933) mural animation sequence to Diego Rivera’s mural, Man at the Crossroads in New York (1933), and David Alfaro Siqueiros white-washed mural America Tropical in Los Angeles (1932).
Roland Crandall, the animator of Snow White began his drawings just as Siqueiros was unveiling America Tropical in Los Angeles and Fleischer studio was only a couple of blocks away at 1600 Broadway in downtown New York where Rivera was creating his Rockefeller Center mural.
Multiplication Condensation and Displacement,2014, 2 channel video, includes beginning credits from - Minnie the Moocher (1932) and clips from Betty Boop’s Snow-White, (1933) Fleischer Studios. Both videos include footage of Cab Calloway performing and singing. The footage used in this video sequence was the first documented use of rotoscoping technology invented by the Fleischer brothers. Rotoscoping is an animation technique used by animators to trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, when realistic action is required. Originally, photographed live-action movie images were projected onto a glass panel and re-drawn by an animator. Rotoscoping can be seen as a “scene of production through shifting relationships of projection and condensation, applying itself to that space much as the body, in the words of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, ‘haunts’ the space of the world, applying itself there actively and extensively, ‘like a hand to an instrument'. I regard the film as an artifact of a studio ‘world’, a scene of intensive labor, a laboratory of intersubjective negotiation of actions, parts and meanings. It is the work of many hands engaged in the working-through of a shared dream in waking life.” – Lisa Cartwright - Body & Society
Cab Calloway was filmed dancing in front of his band, and Roland Crandall then rotoscoped his movement into a popular Betty Boop film animation becoming a ghostly figure singing St James Infirmary Blues. St James Infirmary aka An Unfortunate Rake is a 18th century ballad that has evolved over the course of history. The song narrative is summarized by a young man or woman dying at a young age thus a person "cut down in his/her prime". Some song lyrics recounts the last memories of the young person chronicling an amoral life gone wrong. The song has been made popular by Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Johnny Cash, Nina Simone, Blind Willie McTell, The White Stripes, Allen Toussaint and countless others. The song has become un-traceable due to its many renditions and thus an archival abyss.
The title of this video work refers to Lisa Cartwright’s essay The Hands of the Animator: Rotoscopic Projection, Condensation, and Repetition Automatism in the Fleischer Apparatus. Cartwright says “Rather than simply modeling the animated body on live-action footage, they perform a kind of reciprocal reverse-engineering of the animated figure and the live-action film performance, having them serve as reciprocal projections and screens for fantasies of movement that expresses sexualized and racialized desire and difference. Each figure resonates with the other, projecting and layering their meanings, and serving together as a composite or condensation of collective fantasies about racial difference and embodied expression.”
This video was originally commissioned by Casa del Lago Juan José Arreola, Mexico City and shown as part of The Festival Del Bosque Germinal in 2014 curated by Regina Tattesfield and Allegra Cordero di Montezemolo.
Medium: Video | Digital Print | Archive | Music