The Archive and OKJA!!

“The Archive of the Movements of Inanimate Object” is playing as a short opener for “Okja” at the IFS in Boulder on the evening of Sunday Nov. 4th and Monday Nov. 5th. I know it’s on Netflix, but it’s better on the big screen, and in the temple of the moving image which we all know as Muenzinger auditorium.

Arrive by 7:15 (FYI: The short will start 15 minutes before the feature time) to see “The Archive of the Movements of Inanimate Objects”Here are two short reviews to read about the films:


A Review of Okja By A. O. SCOTT :

“Okja,” not unlike “E. T.,” is about how a young person achieves moral insight by connecting with and fighting for a nonhuman creature. Okja’s oppressors, like E. T.’s, are part of a system that refuses to recognize her as anything more than a thing…

…The human performers are all brilliant, but the movie belongs to its title character and her digitally conjured, genetically modified ilk. Okja is a miracle of imagination and technique, and “Okja” insists, with abundant mischief and absolute sincerity, that she possesses a soul.


A Review of AMIO By ALEX COX :

“Brilliant! …A lot of shorts (and longs) seem to have no message or moral purpose but your film absolutely does. It is a really strong statement not only against vivisection and cruelty to things we don’t understand, but also about the perversity of technology and the capriciousness of man, or the man/beast which we are. This is really fine thought-provoking work – beautifully realized and deeply disturbing. Thank you for doing it! ”

Profound (or shallow?) Objectification

Profound objectification is a method of practicing a mind state of equanimity that a lot of artists are familiar with because it comes from practicing drawing, or photography, or painting, or sculpting, or any art practice where you’re doing a lot of observing.

Handknee, graphite and charcoal on paper

Surfing in place, Digital Sketch










It comes with drawing from observation. As you practice more, you start to see past your own desires, and past your own assumptions of the subject in it’s relationship to you. You really see shallower as well as deeper. You see shallower than the meaning, shallower than the surface, until it’s just the light that you’re witnessing. The light that simply bounces from the surface. The light that’s reflected and refracted inside the surface, and then comes back toward you. It’s just the light that you’re looking at rather than what you want the object to be. It starts to simply be what it is. You start to see it without all the extra stuff that you put on it, and you realize that it exists in it’s own right. The object has autonomy outside it’s relation to you. This is a clearer and more humble version of anything you look at, without the names for things we all agree on, or the names you call things by, but you start to see it by it’s name as it’s called in your eye, only by the light that returns from it at the moment you’re watching.

Dynamic gesture, charcoal on paper

Not again, charcoal on paper

This kind of seeing allows you to see the soul in the inanimate object. You don’t have to imagine it, you don’t have to know it, you don’t have to make any decisions about it at all, you just have to see it without all the naming and choosing and wanting and deciding and knowing. The light as it is in it’s shallow nothingness strips you of all the artifice from your understanding of what you’re seeing, and it lets you “profoundly objectify” the thing while you maintain your empathy and compassion for it. Most objectification leads to disrespect because you retain your desire, and an ego-centric position. This shallow-yet-profound-objectification opens you up to the ability to respect anything, real or imagined, alive or inanimate. The classism, all the priorities and hierarchies disintegrate from your gaze and fall away. How equal could the world we live in be, if all things were offered the same respect by virtue of the way we see them, rather than how we think about them, name them, speak of them, and desire them?” 

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The Archive: notes…


The Archive of the Movements of Inanimate Objects

“I want people to take as much as they can from the movie.

“It started as a basic psychodrama, with a character entering a space and investigating what seems strange and then possibly finding something that they can’t understand. The space is defined by the character’s ignorance in relation to what they are seeing. As it’s said in the world, “you see what you want to see.” But, of course, there’s a spirit of truth that lives intrinsically behind what we see and what we don’t. What many people call God, I guess.

“Then the character finds something and has both an external and internal – or objective and subjective – experience with what they take from that place, all of this “mixed experience” is fairly easy to express through animation because it’s all constructed as collage, so what’s interior can be exterior and vice versa, very much like our simultaneous interior and exterior experience in conscious life. That’s what I love so much about animation, it’s how much better it expresses reality than live action cinematography! Yes motion is inherent to realism, but it’s not the whole story. Internal moving-visual-thinking is the other half, and for some it’s way more than half.

“So, I was turning that into a kind of essay on the very normal experience of objectification and desire for answers, and the capacity for compassion and empathy in the face of that as well. The film is a real human story about our role as a mind in the world, and how it affects the world, and how it affects ourselves for that matter. I think it reaches way past the narrative itself, and into a kind of poetic mythologizing of “the questioner of reality”, or “the scientist”, who we all are in some way, and who is also human, and who also has a spiritual side, but then has to make compromises for their own humanity, and for their own empathy, in order to even ask the questions that they want to ask about the world and what they’ve found.

“It’s a story of poetic redemption and consequences, but, maybe there are consequences to questions that we don’t really have a choice in asking. So, in some ways, the film is a dramatization of everyday experience, and what we do to our minds and to our own spirits in order to navigate this journey that we’re all on. To accept the consequences of our actions, to continue to act, and ask our questions, and make choices about what we will sacrifice on a daily basis, and in many ways, also while we sleep and dream.” 

C. Pearce

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A Cultural History of Tai Chi

Working with both Scott Phillips, and a fantastic group of student filmmakers at the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, was an enlightening experience. Teaching filmmaking techniques while negotiating the extensive combination of history, kinesthetics, art, dance, music, and religious ritual that Scott offered to this documentary, was one of the most challenging experiences of production I’ve had.

Scott’s book, “Possible Origins”,  further clarifies the ideas summarized in the video, and it’s a great way to get deeper into the compelling arguments he makes to recombine the histories of dance, fighting, religion, and art, that were separated through international war and cultural change.

Working with such a unique scholar, historian, and practitioner of martial arts was like a dream. Scott Phillips is a wealth of expansive and inter-connected ideas, sounds, and movements, all around the theme of reconnecting disparate cultural traditions. Having such a compelling subject actively making his own voice, image, and concepts available to our documentary production was a boon for a film production teacher and the students expecting a semester of repetitious curriculum.

Characteristically, the film is dense with meaning, metaphor, images, and sounds and it was a struggle to compress into it’s short length. You can feel the compression while watching as you’re compelled to re-watch the film to get a handle on the complex epiphanies. However, each repeat screening does reward a viewer with new understandings.

My crew, the video and sound production class in the RMCAD Animation Department, who are all credited at the end of the video, were the most engaged group of learner-makers I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Thanks to everyone involved.

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The A.M.I.O. at MIFFonEdge, July 2015

Walking to the Lab

If you’re in the Waterville, Maine area and want to take in some art, my new film, (take a breath first) “The Archive of the Movements of Inanimate Objects”,  is in the MIFFonEdge exhibition there for a week or so. I won’t be there because I’m teaching my best summer animation workshop to date, but please drop in to catch it’s first light. I’ve heard great things about this festival already from folks in the know.

The exhibition includes work by the artists Nancy Andrews, David Colagiovanni, Judith Larsen, Heddi Vaughan Siebel, and Stan VanDerBeek. I’m in great company and humbled. Should be a great show.

Watch the film online here

Here’s the link to the 2015 program: MIFFonEdge – Maine International Film Festival 2015

Just a week or so away from this postings date…

Hand and BulbPoem Stanzas

JCOS Animation Workshop

I was at the Jefferson County Open School this Spring to teach another animation workshop!

Possibly the best public school in the world. On entering the building each afternoon I was fed by the pervasive enthusiasm of every learner in the building. This is a community built on self-directed, whole child, experiential education.

My love affair with this community did not start here. I’ve had an “in” for 10 years chaperoning trips like “The Art and Culture of L.A.” and “The Independent Film Trip” to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. But working in the building was a small dream of mine and it came true this March.

This fantastic group of students took their turn at the challenge of making a metamorphic exquisite corpse animation as a group on index cards and they drew almost 800 drawings in their spare time!

With the theme of “Hybrid Creatures” they each designed a hybridized character, like a “Pica-yogurt” (Picachu + yogurt) and a “Squain” (squid + brain) and spent their spare time drawing in-betweens on index cards to transform each creature into the next in an endless loop. This particular loop has some gaps, but those who finished get credit for being the most engaging young animators I’ve ever worked with.


September School Visiting Artist Workshop

I was invited to be the visiting artist at the September School for the first week in November.

The fantastic art teacher Angela and the students took the challenge of making a metamorphic exquisite corpse animation as a group, and with an entirely digital process!!

With the theme of “Mythological Creatures” they each designed a character and spent their in-class time drawing in-betweens in photoshop to transform one creature into another in an endless loop.

This was the result with original music by one of the students: (It’s all in the credits, Enjoy!!)

Bill, The Galactic Hero World Premiere – DEC. 12th – 7:30 & 9:30 – IFS – Muenzinger – Boulder












!!! Bill, The Galactic Hero – FEATURE FILM !!!

World Premiere – DEC. 12th – 7:30 & 9:30 – IFS – Muenzinger – Boulder

New Link 2016!!!! – Bill the Galactic Hero Feature Film on Vimeo HERE!!!

Watch the trailer here:

Directed by Alex Cox and produced by a crew made entirely of students, this is the largest student production ever, and I had the honor of directing the animation for the Prologue and the Epilogue for the film !!!

In the spring semester of 2014… on the third floor of the Atlas building… in the CU Film Studies digital lab… the students in my course, FILM 3620, naively accepted the task of creating the animation for the Prologue and Epilogue to the student made feature film, BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO.

They designed, toiled and fought their way through a full 8 minutes of character animation for a measly 3 credit course. They continued working past the end of the semester for another 30 days. Beginning with the production design and concept art by Coley Lubinski (Nicole Raven) and ending with delivery to the editor, the work was unrelenting for six months. Hats off to the animation crew, many of who will be present at the world premiere!

The film will open for it’s world premiere at the International Film Series in the Muenzinger auditorium at 7:30 pm on December 12th!!!





Telluride Film Fest 2014 review

20 fascinating films in 4 days.

Inbetween all those films the mind is filled with ideas. What better way to pass the time than make motion sketches. Blink, like the eyes of the aspens, and you may miss a few frames. Note: plenty of time to sleep when dead.

Telluride 2014 had a handful of gems to look for.

This caveat is unnecessary if you know me: I’m not one for the mainstream. Typically my list includes the strange-and-powerful over the fun-but-easily-forgotten.

Here are my lists (below) responding to the question “WILL YOU SEE IT AGAIN?” (and here’s a link to the program if you want to follow along)


Cried mild at “Wild” and I would do it again. This is how I like to cry. With atheistic forgiveness.

Grunts of approval after “Mr. Turner”. Strap me to the mast to resist the siren of this light!

Long persuasive discussions after “Diplomacy”. And I have an aversion to history.

Pensive shared moments after “The Look of Silence” (much less traumatic theater experience than “The Act of Killing” and a perfect supporting film, although it became obvious to me that the real shocker is not violence on screen but a lack of remorse). The heart of darkness is not a serial killer, but the everyday man turned into one by their government. Serial killing as a learnable skill (shudder again weeks later). “The Act of Killing” I could not see again, but this film I may watch every year.

Between Thanksgiving and Xmas, if I can find some dvds, you will find me screening “Baal”, “California Split”, and “Wicked Woman” as a triple feature, alone in the garage, with a bottle of Bulleit.

The POSSIBLY list:

If it get’s recut for release I may re-screen, “Mommy”, as a Silver-Linings-reality-check.

I may see, “The Salt of the Earth”, again if I’m with my family when I share it with them.

Some strange political optimism after “Rosewater”, This film may come back and be unavoidable.

The NO NEED list:

The over the top images and blunt manipulations of “Wild Tales” are indelibly stuck in my mind so why would I ever need to see it again. Zero subtlety to tease out with repeated viewings. A sort of masochistic kind of fun and humor that may be just right for you, however.

As it is simply validity for my paranoia, I will skip “Merchants of Doubt” next time, and simply worry while I do the dishes instead.

All the best,


The Portal

I worked for over two years with the producer/director of The Portal actualizing his visions and designing his experiments into an HD feature. This feature plays behind a live band of extremely talented musicians to create an immersive rock-concert-cinematic-experience. The entire show is precision and emotion to a degree I never thought possible. The feature film is synched to the frame with the music, live and recorded, like a two hour music video.

This project, The Portal, was a test of technique and intuition working collaboratively. At the end of each week I would be utterly drained of my left and right brain simultaneously. It was a fantastic learning experience both technically and creatively.

This video is a rough assembly of a tiny fraction of the animation and compositing that I created for the film. Every shot in this assembly was fully composited. In some cases you can see clearly what was illusion and in some cases it looks so real you may be fooled. I now know Adobe After Effects inside and out. Enjoy.

Opening Titles for “Tall Tales of the 3 Fingered Man”

Tall Tales of the 3-FIngered Man Titles

3FingeredManTitles from Chris Pearce on Vimeo.

“Tall Tales of the 3 Fingered Man” is a personal documentary made by Kimby Caplan, a good friend of mine. This is the opening title sequence for the film. I tried to make it honest and playful in it’s memory and portrayal of Shelly Caplan, a wonderful man and father who I knew and will miss along with many other people.

May Shelly Caplan Rest in Joy, Humor and in Peace!

Snowmass Villiage Glacier Animation

SnowMastodon animation, 2012

SnowmassGlacierAnimation from Chris Pearce on Vimeo.

This 20 seconds of animation was for a short documentary segment as part of the new Denver Museum of Nature and Science Mammoth and Mastodon Exhibit. It plays on a screen about halfway into the exhibit as part of a short doc produced by Straw Hat Pictures about the dig at Snowmass Villiage in 2011 (“Snowmastodon”). I enjoy making animation that illustrates scientific principles, and the exhibit as a whole was great!

Here are some continuing links to the larger project and context:


Paper Motion Studies

Quick motion studies to work out ideas about continuity, discontinuity, and narrative in a frame series.


Blank Page: A stab at illustration of a mental construct without direct representation, but I had to rely on sound. 


Something Else There: Another stab at the illustration of a mental construct without direct representation, but much more subtle. This time animation as Mime, or the “art of silence” as Marcel Marceau called it. 


Paper Dance: Just a dance. If I could could fly, this is how I’d do it (fall gracefully).

It’s surprising how easy it is to see both movements at the same time and not get confused. You’d think collation would destroy continuity. I guess there’s more thought happening in the eye than “perception” might imply, like in the footsteps of Robert Breer.

Wait for it.

Nothing like a good cadence.

The cycle of art making.

Movie poster for software development team

Ultipro Movie Poster


A software development team was doing some group building and wanted to use the aura of the cinema to hang their enthusiasm on.

They asked me to develop a “movie” poster for their team to communicate to the larger company what they do and how they see themselves. I thought it was a great idea for group building; to construct a group imagination of a cinematic narrative. We get invested in the story of cinema so easily and this is a great way to extend that investment into the real world. I can remember this same dynamic happening spontaneously in my grade school social groups (from 1st grade through grad school) where we would find commitment to our clique through imagined story lines of grandeur (let’s name our production company “precocious productions” or something else with specific identity). I should turn this into a full business model: Movie posters for group building and group identity branding!

It’s some of my best Photoshop work. I’m especially proud of the quality of reflected and refracted light inside the magnifier.

Illustration of a Mental Construct Without Direct Representation

Illustration of a Mental Construct Without Direct Representation

The basic concept here is that we are more creative in responding to something, whether real or imagined.

Our first creation can be a supposition, an imagination that we can then respond to. We have a difficult time creating from nothing or from the simple desire to create. However, if we respond to something hidden, even an imagined object, we can create almost freely in dialog with that construct.

Examples of this concept in contemporary art and cinema below:

Sculptor Rachel Whiteread casts the spaces inside and under objects (house, chairs, tables, etc.)

The inside space of an object cast as a solid helps us imagine the object and see the object in ways we haven’t before.

In this image the house can now be visualized as the negative space surrounding the empty space it used to contain which is now cast in concrete.

House, Rachel Whiteread, 1993


Mimes engage in this relationship with the imaginary object as a basic tool of their art almost always embodying and moving inside the negative space of the imagined architecture. Think of the classic performance of the mime trapped inside the glass box.

This is a fun example, below, of a Rowan Atkinson mime routine that also uses audio synch events to “sell” the presence of the imaginary construct, similar to animation.

I don’t want to work, I just want to bang on this construct all day!


Most artists want to move past simply illustrating an imaginary object.

The method of responding to an imaginary object can still be used to inspire a creative process beyond communicating or illustrating the object itself.

In this TED presentation from Wayne McGregor, he outlines his creative processes for choreography of dancers and it often starts with the imagination of an object or space. Then it continues into his communication with the dancers and a kind of collage of motions constructed from multiple processes. The result seems to have no connection to the original imagined objects and the artist seems to have no fetish for communicating the construct he initially responded to. The value of the construct is simply to evoke a response and spark the creative process into action.


The ideas I’m presenting in this post were initially inspired by my experience screening the film “Market Street” by the experimental filmmaker Tomonari Nishikawa.

Unfortunately for this blog, but fortunately for the value of both his work and the audiences’ experience, Nishikawa’s films are not available online .

The original film prints are much truer to his intent and I imagine his abstracted photography and precise frame rates would be muddied terribly by video size, spatial and temporal compressions.

Nishikawa uses single framing, repositioning of the camera between frames, negative space and exposure to illustrate the imagined geometries in his mind.

It is not only a great example of communicating form through negative space, but also a wonderful example of what Norman McClaren said of animation that, “It’s not what you shoot on each frame but what you do between shooting each frame that matters.”

In these consecutive stills the artist is imagining the triangle and using the process of repositioning the camera and his eye between shooting single frames to illustrate the form in his minds eye.

The quick succession of frames in film projection goes farther than suggesting the triangular form but instead seems to actually draw the form fast enough for the audience to actually see it.

Notice the triangular form created by the alternated angles and the frame edge.

Consecutive frame serires from “Market Street”, Tomonari Nishikawa