How little does an artist need in a moving image to tell a story? In this film, artist Tommy Hartung employs minimal means and materials to create animated movies, performing a series of experiments in his basement studio in Ridgewood, Queens. Hartung’s remodeled underground space functions as a workshop—or in the words of a friend, an “arena”—with colored lights, dioramas, and puppet-like characters. Using stop-motion photography, Hartung records a series of simple actions: blowing smoke through an artificial mouth, dripping Karo syrup on a frog, crumpling plastic wrap, adjusting a doll’s clothing, and funnelling salt through a hole. Preferring what the artist terms “dead cinema,” Hartung’s hand-crafted props and their intentionally un-lifelike movements are against the grain of current computer-generated animation spectacles. Featuring scenes from the works The Story of Edward Holmes (2008) and The Ascent of Man (2009).

Tommy Hartung (b. 1979, Akron, Ohio, USA) lives and works in Queens, New York.

CREDITS | New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Cinematography: Andrew David Watson. Sound: Nicholas Lindner & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Paulina V. Ahlstrom, Don Edler & Maren Miller. Design: Open. Artwork: Tommy Hartung. Thanks: Candice Madey, Jorge Olivo, On Stellar Rays, Ronnie. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2011. All rights reserved.

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