Aboveground Animation is a showcase for artists from around the world started by Casey Jane Ellison, who is herself an animator. Aboveground started out in Chicago in 2008 where Casey presented live screenings of her own animation work alongside work by other young artists. Aboveground Animation has continued to host screenings in Chicago and more recently in New York, LA and Atlanta. Aboveground also moved online in the past year, you can visit the website to check out the most recent showcase. Casey answers a few questions about starting Aboveground and what motivates her own work…
Q. Aboveground Animation started life with live screenings, before moving online. How important is it for you that the work you select is seen live?
A. Aboveground Animation seeks to open a discussion about animation and video art. Each piece varies in media, format, politics and motive. The whole presentation reveals a conversation among the individual works to the audience. The viewers' participation is integral to the support of this kind of work.
This kind of work is seldom seen in a public space with a deliberate viewing. It's mostly seen online. Presenting Aboveground Animation live is about understanding the work in real time and space with viewers who share that interest. Aboveground urges viewers to discover this work in public.
Q. Why did you choose the name Aboveground Animation? Are you attempting to be intentionally anti-"underground", so to speak?
A. Aboveground Animation seeks to popularize the hysterical and haunting images created by diverse artists who imagine these worlds. The live screenings allow the audiences to inhabit the artists' respective worlds. Animation, in popculture is accessible and iconic and Aboveground screenings work to broaden the limits of the aesthetics and subjects of that notion. The work in the series uplifts and elevates.
Q. How do you select the work that goes into Aboveground?
A. The artists in Aboveground create work that fascinates me and that I admire.
Q. Superficially the work is stylistically quite broad, from your own stop-motion work to 3D renders and some featuring live performers. Yet there is this slightly twisted, dark sensibility and a rather bleak sense of humour that runs through a lot of the stuff on the website, including your personal work. Can you expand on that a bit?
A. Humour and violence, hysteria in general, lends itself to animation because of its boundlessness. There are no limitations to the construction of animated worlds and this freeness allows for the profound revelation. The comedy and the tragedy become cathartic throughout the program.
Q. Who inspires you as an animator?
A. I'm grateful for animators like Suzan Pitt and Yuri Norstein who make terrifyingly beautiful images. Directors and narratives inspire me to tell stories even if they're only 30 seconds long. I'm into the virtue of brevity.
Aboveground Animation will be hosting their next live screening on a date still to be confirmed in September at Ramiken Crucible in New York.
Picture Credits: Trilogy by Lauren GregoryTrilogy; Delic by Kathleen Daniel; Mirror's Nau Sau Ser Bil Uma Rah Rab by Robert Bittenbend; Sketches Fr Sketches Fr BAAL by Leigha Mason