Database for Animation Studies


Across the Traces: Lawrence Jordan’s Animated Documents

Since the early 1960s, Lawrence Jordan has appropriated a variety of Victorian engravings transforming them into experimental animations through the use of cut-out stop-motion techniques. In their outmoded style and technique, the dense tapestry of collaged ephemera begins to function as indices of their original Victorian context and its printing processes. But the stop-motion manipulation also renders these indexical documents surreal through the juxtaposition of apparently unrelated images. This amounts to a reflexive approach harking back to the early days of cinema when audiences perceived the new technology as a source of wonder, amazement and magic. Jordan’s animations, such as Patricia Gives Birth to a Dream by the Doorway (1961–1964) and The Centennial Exposition (1961–1964), employ a productive tension not just between animation and documentary but between indexicality and illusion as well. In these animations, the use of such tensions exposes history and culture as fragmentary constructions of memory, fantasy and experience, thereby open to alteration, re-reading and reconfiguration in the present moment.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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