Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 7:30pm
Designers in Film: Goldsholl Design Associates

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Curated by Amy Beste

In the late 1950s and 1960s, Chicago-based Goldsholl Design and Film Associates made a name for itself with its “designs-in-film”— playful, constructivist collages, stylized graphic animation, and dazzling light displays in spectacular industrial films, television ads, title sequences, and short independent art films. Headed by Mort and Millie Goldsholl, the studio produced work for prominent international corporations like Kimberly Clark (Kleenex ads and products), Motorola (the Motorola “M”), and Coca-Cola (7Up “See the Light” campaign) and was often compared to some of the most important design firms of the day, including the Eames’s workshop and Saul Bass’s studio. Despite their mid-century acclaim, the Goldsholls and their designers are relatively unknown today.

The Goldsholls learned their craft from Hungarian artist and designer László Moholy-Nagy while attending the Institute of Design, the Chicago-based iteration of the Bauhaus. At ID, Moholy-Nagy emphasized motion picture production, which he viewed as a medium of light and collage, and taught within an ethos of aesthetic experimentation and social engagement. Deeply influenced by Moholy-Nagy’s teachings, Morton and Millie fostered a similar attitude in their own designers.

Over time, the firm became a hub for a generation of Chicago filmmakers working across the fields of documentary, animation, design, and experimental film, many of whom had also attended ID. The creative work these artists pursued on their own influenced their commercial productions for the Goldsholls and vice versa. Seen together, these works resonate, echo, and respond to one another in technique, subject matter, and tone.

This program features the films of Wayne Boyer and Larry Janiak, who were hired by the Goldsholls to start up the firm’s film division in the late 1950s. Boyer and Janiak’s experiments with direct animation, pixilation, collage, mixed media, and superimposition came to define the film division’s look in the mid-1960s. The two were joined by the photographer Robert Stiegler in the early 1960s, who pursued high-contrast abstraction and the use of still-photographs as film frames. During their time at Goldsholls, the three also played important roles in Chicago’s burgeoning underground film scene, organizing screenings, workshops, and establishing the Center Cinema Coop, a cooperatively run distribution center and the region’s answer to the Film-makers' Co-op on the East Coast and Canyon Cinema on the West.

The screening also includes one of Millie’s own independent films, Up Is Down. The film, distributed to school children through the educational film company Pyramid, employs faux-naïve hand-drawn animations and a disturbing flash-frame montage of 20th century human atrocity, which Millie had pieced together in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination and Chicago’s violent response. Like many of the films produced by Goldsholl designers, it operates on multiple registers—a children’s lesson, a political lament, and a means to social consciousness. - AB

Night Driving, Millie and Morton Goldsholl, 1957, 16mm, 9 mins
The Goldsholls’ first completed film echoes the emphasis on light Moholy-Nagy placed at the Institute of Design.

Faces and Fortunes, Goldsholl Design Associates, 1959, 16mm, 12 mins
A treatise on what was the then emerging, now ubiquitous, practice of corporate identity design. The film both teaches viewers how to create and deploy the tools of the practice while at the same time deconstructing the process of corporate branding, potentially providing viewers with a glimpse of the structure that puts the logo in its place.

Kleenex-X-periments, Goldsholl Design Associates, 1959, 16mm, 8 mins
A series of spec TV ads for the multi-national Kimberly-Clark, which owned Kleenex and a number of other paper-based product lines.

Lichtspiel Nur 1, Robert Stiegler, 1966, 16mm, 6 mins
Capturing the play of city lights at night, Stiegler shot the film with a still camera and time-exposed each frame individually to create layered abstractions of streaked and dotted light.

Drop City, Wayne Boyer, 1968, 16mm, 5 mins
Shot in Drop City, a commune of artists, poets, and musicians established near Trinidad, Colorado, during a “72 hour mind blow.” Boyer composed the piece by running film through the camera twice, each time with a different mask, and editing all in-camera.

George and Martha Revisited, Wayne Boyer, 1967, 16mm, 8 mins
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? condensed into 8 minutes. Boyer shot the footage in a movie theater with a camera he had adapted to allow for long exposure rates. Intended as a dissection of cinema’s illusion of motion, George and Martha Revisited also gives formal expression to Edward Albee’s examination of illusion, lies, and fantasy, transforming the feature’s emotional tensions into lingering afterimages.

Up Is Down, Millie Goldsholl, 1969, 16mm, 6 mins
Presents a study of an unconventional young boy who is temporarily persuaded to accept others' viewpoints as his own. (Pyramid Films)

DL #2 (Disintegration Line 2), Larry Janiak, 1970, 16mm, 11 mins
Janiak’s handmade, abstract animation conjures allusions to stained-glass windows, light displays, and the cosmos. The artist writes, “the film depicts the infinitesimal nuclei of energy called Tanmatra, a moving field of aggregates of atoms and cosmic motion, the dance of Shiva.”

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.