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CFA Acquires 3 Films by Larry Janiak

April 4, 2013

For the past few months we have been gathering information about the Chicago-based design firm Goldsholl Design & Film Associates for our upcoming program MEET MORT & MILLIE (Sunday, April 7th at the Chicago Cultural Center). Former employess of the firm turned out to be some of our best sources – Susan Keig, Wayne Boyer and last but not least, Larry Janiak.

When speaking recently with Larry he decided CFA would be a good home for the prints and elements of three of his experimental films – DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 (DL1) (1960s), DISINTEGRATION LINE #2 (DL2) (1960s) and ADAM’S FILM (1963)…. And we couldn’t be more delighted!

A Chicago native, Larry studied at the Institute of Design at I.I.T. and the Art Institute of Chicago. He worked for the Richard Kliedon Animation Studio in Chicago from 1956 to 1959 and was employed by Morton Goldsholl Design & Film Associates before and after being drafted into the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964. Here, Janiak was a creative force in the design firm’s film department.

His military service consisted of work as art director at the educational television station of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Signal School and Communication Research Center at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Janiak taught design animation and experimental filmmaking at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology from 1968 to 1980 and has belonged to the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago since 1965. Janiak has created several films for the Vedanta Society including a 1965 documentary of Hale House. (bio courtesy of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Special Collections)

Janiak DL1 2 1

2 stills from DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 (1960s)

Now back to Janiak’s donated films: DL1 & DL2 are both direct animation films. DL1 (which is screening this Sunday at MEET MORT & MILLIE !!) is primarily black & white and silent, while DL2 is color with sound. Both films were made using the same technique- by applying lithographic blackout, or touche, to unprocessed black and white film stock and then shocking these strips of 16mm film into tanks of cold water, fixer, hot water, developer and then repeating the process. Janiak then carefully washed the remaining chemical residue off of the strips, hung them up to dry on his mother’s clothes line (!) and then arranged them into what he called “interesting sequences.” The back and forth chemical processing was repeated many times to build up an abstract and fully random pattern.

Janiak Details500

For DL2, Janiak went a step further and optically printed the film through various pieces of color gels, carefully labeling each color and repeating them at various speeds. Lastly, he added a Gamelan soundtrack to the piece. The result, according to Chicago filmmaker and writer Fred Camper, “creates dynamic and surprising clashes between percussive sounds and loops and circles.” Janiak’s strong connection with the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago adds further dimension to these two particular films. In a recent interview with CFA, Janiak stated, “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.  This full field abstract animation is produced by the Brownian motion effect.”

AdamsFilm2 500

2 stills from ADAM’S FILM (1963)

For ADAM’S FILM (1963) Janiak mixed the chemically generated visual variations seen in DL1 & DL2 with live action footage of an early Chicago Earth Day parade and a Janiak family gathering, resulting in what Fred Camper describes as “an enigmatic combination of personal family images and dynamic shapes.” Cine-File Chicago‘s Doug McLaren goes further by stating, “Janiak displays an instinctive command of his techniques, an assuredness of process rivaled only by Pat O’Neill.” Larry  just humbly refers to this film as a “sketch” shot on a 16mm camera that he had recently purchased from downtown Chicago’s Central Camera.

CFA is delighted to add these three films to our collections at 329 West 18th Street. Along with the 2011 donation of JoAnn Elam’s films, Janiak’s films add to our growing collection of locally produced experimental films. AND, DON’T FORGET. . . be sure to check out DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 on the big screen at this Sunday’s MEET MORT & MILLIE program !!


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