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Wayne Boyer and Larry Janiak: CAMERA AND LINE

October 1, 2015 at 6pm

Adams Film, Larry Janiak, 1963

We’re super excited to team up with Conversations at the Edge (CATE) this fall to screen select works by Chicago filmmakers, Wayne Boyer & Larry Janiak. CATE is a weekly series of screenings, artist talks, and performances by some of the most compelling media artists of yesterday and today. CATE is organized by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Film, Video, and New Media in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank. Programs take place Thursdays at 6pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State / Chicago, IL / 312.846.2600), unless otherwise noted.


Chicago at midcentury was home to a remarkable group of artists who bridged European modernism, pop, and psychedelia in brilliant personal and work-for-hire films. Among the most accomplished were Wayne Boyer and Larry Janiak, who trained at László Moholy-Nagy’s Institute of Design, worked for Morton Goldsholl’s design studio, and helped found the Center Cinema Coop, an important film distribution collective operating out of Chicago from the years 1968 to 1978. Both produced expressive and technically masterful films; Boyer’s work explores visual abstraction through appropriation and in-camera effects while Janiak’s work examines the inner life through direct animation and personal fragments of the everyday. This long overdue survey presents key works from the 1950s–70s and brings new insights to their achievements. Followed by a roundtable with Boyer, Michael Golec, Associate Professor of Design History at SAIC, and Anne Wells, Collections Manager for the Chicago Film Archives (CFA). Presented in collaboration with the CFA.

1959–75, USA, 16mm, 60 min + discussion

Faces and Fortunes (Goldsholl Associates, 1959, 16mm, Color, Sound, 12 min. Preserved by Chicago Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation)
This sponsored film from Chicago’s Goldsholl Design & Film Associates captures the lively world of pre-1960s advertising through animation and collage techniques. As a filmic treatise on corporate identity, Faces and Fortunes explores the legacy and importance of “personality” achieved through the branding practices of industries, organizations and companies. The film was sponsored by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, produced & directed by Morton Goldsholl, conceived by Millie Goldsholl and executed by Wayne Boyer, Larry Janiak and Millie.

Drop City (Wayne Boyer, 1968, 16mm., Color, Sound, 5 min.)
An experimental documentary on Drop City, a famous counterculture artists’ community once located near Trinidad, Colorado. Inspired by the architectural ideas of Buckminster Fuller and Steve Baer, residents of the commune constructed geodesic domes out of salvaged materials – culled lumber, bottle caps and chopped-out car tops. Drop City became a lab for experimental building, and in 1966 Fuller himself honored Drop City with his Dymaxion Award for “poetically economic structural accomplishments.” Boyer made the film with only two 100′ rolls of 16mm film, each roll being run through the camera twice, each pass with a different mask in front of the camera. The result of these precise techniques is a dynamic superimposed tour of one of the first rural communes of the 1960s.

Disintegration Line #1 (DL1) (Larry Janiak, 1960, 16mm, b&w, silent, 9 min. Preserved by Chicago Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation)
A direct animation film featuring black and white full frame motion as opalescent as the dancing night sky. The abstract animation field textures subtly depict the infinitesimal nuclei of energy called Tanmatra, a moving field of aggregates of atoms and cosmic motion called the dance of Shiva. (Larry Janiak)

The Building: Chicago Stock Exchange (Wayne Boyer, 1975, 16mm, color, sound, 12 min.)
A documentary on the 1972 demolition of the landmark Adler & Sullivan-designed building at 30 North LaSalle Street. Architect John Vinci, photographer & preservationist Richard Nickel and others discuss the Adler & Sullivan building, its destruction, and the acquisition of the Board of Trade room by the Art Institute of Chicago. The film is dedicated to Richard Nickel, who died tragically during the demolition of the building.

Adams Film (Larry Janiak, 1963, 16mm, color, sound, 9 min. Preserved by Chicago Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation)
A visual collage experiment that combines live action footage with abstract images and textures drawn directly on 16mm film. The soundtrack consists of assorted tape loops, while the live action footage captures scenes from an early Chicago Earth Day parade and a casual Janiak family gathering. Inspired by musique concrète and the work and writings of John Cage and Gertrude Stein.

Agamemnon in New York (Wayne Boyer & Larry Janiak, 1964, 16mm, b&w, sound., 4.5 min.)
What started as a film test on new sync-sound film equipment quickly became a short film documenting the typical nuttiness behind the scenes at Goldsholl Design & Film Associates, a Chicago-based design firm that employed both Boyer and Janiak. Janiak ad libs alone, as no one else would come out from the behind the camera. Shot by Wayne Boyer and edited by Janiak, a home movie.

George & Martha Revisited (Wayne Boyer, 1967, 16mm, B&W, Sound, 8 min.)
Still images of action and gesture from Mike Nichols’ WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? are used to transform Edward Albee’s characters into the haunting shells of people they have become. To achieve this stunning effect, Boyer re-photographed the entire feature using a specially made camera that slowly recorded images off of the screen. This one minute of film was then expanded to eight minutes, resulting in a re-examination of the entire structure of a feature film – dramatic line, duration relationships and a particulate disassembly of the frames themselves.

Disintegration Line #2 (DL2) (Larry Janiak, 1970, 16mm, color, sound, 12 min. Preserved by Chicago Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation)
An optically printed full color randomly animated film set to Gamelan music. Full field abstract images progress in subtle visual sequences in discernible steps of intensity. DL2 is a film expressing the spirituality in art, a view of the cosmos as dancing atoms. (Larry Janiak)


Drop City, Wayne Boyer, 1968


Wayne Boyer (1937, Chicago) began making animated films as a teenager when he discovered that his father’s 8mm movie camera had a single frame release. He went on to study at the Institute of Design and, along with Larry Janiak, headed the newly formed filmmaking division at Morton Goldsholl Design Associates, an award-winning graphics and industrial design studio. In 1965 he was invited by the University of Illinois at Chicago to establish a photography, film and animation program in the School of Art & Design. During his tenure there, he established his own studio, producing public service, educational, and personal experimental films. He was part of Chicago’s early underground filmmaking community and a member of the Center Cinema Coop, an artist-run distributor for independent films. He is currently Professor Emeritus at UIC.

Larry Janiak (1938, Chicago) began making films as a student at Chicago’s Lane Tech High School. He studied at the Institute of Design and, along with Wayne Boyer, headed the newly formed film division at Morton Goldsholl Design Associates. Janiak left Goldsholl in 1968 for the Institute of Design, where he taught design animation and experimental filmmaking courses for 12 years. He played an active role in Chicago’s underground film community, helping to found Center Cinema Coop, an artist-run distributor of independent films, and a film workshop and screening space in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. He devoted himself to spiritual practice in 1983 and lived at the Vivekananda Vedanta Temple and monastery until the early 1990s.

+ head on over to CATE’s blog…where CFA’s Collections Manager, Anne Wells, discusses her relationship to Wayne & Larry’s work.




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