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  William ANDERSON

In mathematics, a series is generally couched as a formula that can be used to describe the particularities of each term in that series. What is at issue is an elegant, predictable and constant difference. Series are also to be found in art, but artists invariably complicate the elegance. In William Anderson’s films and the animation drawings produced for them, the complication ensures that the works provide fascination, surprise and delight whether they are taken as series or as individual works.

Strictly speaking, all animation stills are in series, with any single movement governing the placement of elements. But movement is rarely simple, and if allied to the needs of composition, that is, making art, the dialectics of materiality and experience come into play. To expose the making procedure and to give duration a shape, Anderson’s films use two kinds of sequence. One is serial and visible yet altered by the illusion of movement: its seriality can be verified by the drawings when they are laid out as separate images. The other is completely visible: this is the sequence of movement after movement. Sometimes this is serial or appears to be so, because of the artist’s choice of elements and their placement.

Out of these limitations, Anderson produces images that continually move in orthogonal rhythms across the screen’s surface. Nothing is still. Under the movement there are archetypical patterns of stability and centred-ness, manifest in quadratic, concentric and spinning forms. Over this there are also pulses or cycles, rhythms which repeat, as in the pistons (dumbbell pumps), or periodic discontinuities as in the red/yellow/black cubes.

What is obviously dynamic and visible in a film can be difficult to locate in adjacent cells or stills. In such cases, especially with the spirals, the bullseyes, and the columns of disks, the predictable differences of the animation series are so subtle that one has to make an effort to find them. And being distracted by the sub-patterns is another pleasure. There are so many interlocked patterns that it comes as a surprise to realize that the image was once intended to be a microsecond condition.

At the same time, there is the direct quality of the drawing. Anderson is no stranger to intricate, precise geometric paintings, and these drawings show the same care while exhibiting the fuzziness of felt pen, multiple scissor cuts around curves of paper, or a wavering brushed line. This relationship of image to hand mark is similar to the symbiotic one of stability and movement that is revealed when the drawings flicker through time.

There is another group effect produced by the drawings that is worth noting. When a grid of animation drawings is pinned up edge to edge, overall gestalts appear. A disc, intended to drift slowly down the frame, produces, through repetition, a tilted grid ranging across the drawings. What would be normally perceived as the motion of a single element becomes a field. Other elements also form fields. The individual drawings merge into one large drawing of the single moment made up of all moments intended for the animation, a drawing in which time is spread out into an intricate lattice.


Alex Selenitsch
November 2006

William Anderson 2004 Exhibition
William Anderson 2010 Exhibition