Tactile / Visceral Texture- “Direct Film”

Animated Films that especially highlight Tactile or Visceral Texture:

The sharp texture of shards of glass make this fascinating animation from Russia ,1985 Kalju Kiv

“Direct Animation” or “Direct Film” is a term usually associated with various means of drawing/scratching/composting etc actual film stock. Some may choose to use “Direct film” as a claim for completely abstract textured films that they purport affect and communicate directly to our senses and subconscious thought processes.

This website Handmade Cinema is an amazing and very large compendium of  Various “artisanal moving image production” from 1700 to 2010 !


Katherine Berger

It is undeniable that images and the screen dominate much of our waking lives, pilfering our eyes as we privilege the visual. However, as the digital gains ubiquity, it’s the experimental film artist who mines the debris of our image consumption gluttony. There is a small but rising contingent of contemporary film artists who utilise and rescue analogue technology from its demise, namely the latent archive of pre-existing footage, and rework the images via handmade, direct-on-film animation techniques. I am a player in this resurgence, choosing to rehabilitate past images and favour the physical object of film. Although, I take advantage of digital technology (when it comes the capturing, editing and dissemination of my films), as a complete contrast to creating images digitally, a method of utilising analogue film in combination with the natural world and it’s elements is employed. This contemporary junction is of interest; where the proliferation of digital offers a ‘freedom’ and ease for modern filmmaking, yet the lingering potentials of analogue and the ‘hands-on’ becomes increasingly pertinent as we move swiftly through the digital era. …

By using the archive to create new works, film artists are also commenting on the photographed image as ‘historical truth’ and reclaiming images that were once used to shape our society, morality and worldviews. Furthermore, forming a dialogue with history and with the present world and creating new narratives and new histories or historiographies.

The borrowing and reanimation of the archival fragment becomes as way of disturbing the smooth structure of an historical narrative, in order to reintroduce the possibility of other realities in the gaps and pauses” (Cocker 2009).

With the advancements of digital technology over the last few decades, a concomitant result, not only is an increase of pre-existing found film to be re-investigated and re-inscribed (rather than discarding or simply consigning it to various archives), but digital’s ability to capture these films that are constantly in a state of decay and flux. This allows the film artist to still have a corporeal relationship with the film medium, which the viewer is aware of, whilst capturing the delicate decay and degradation of the film image (whether natural or created on purpose by the artist through the various hand-manipulation methods). Furthermore, as each film has a life span, just like human beings, we can look after it as much as possible but eventually the memento mori and relentless melt (a term coined by Sontag 1997:15) of the emulsion remains – it cannot last forever.

Just like the cell dividing and multiplying nature of humans, no two film-cells are exactly alike. Each cell of each film is unique. Scratches and marks on a film are akin to the wrinkles and scars on a human body or the rings on a tree trunk, the emulsion of film is like a layer of skin that holds and protects the image and the history and memories contained within. They demonstrate time, reaffirming that we are all organic matter and bear the condition of decomposition, which is a natural, inevitable occurrence. Analogue film has a tactile quality that in a sense “breathes and wobbles” (Bertrand and Routt,

you can read the complete article that this is from at  Direct-On-Found Footage Filmmaking: Mining the debris of image consumption & co-directing with nature :

downloadable pdf of basic approaches to direct film making

Len Lye

Free Radicals

Color Box

Norman Mclaren

Fiddle de Dee  (1947)

a blog featuring a collection  McLaren and Len Lye Direct hand scratched films

Stephanie Maxwell, once studied to be a Marine Biologist but has now continuously created  hand made “direct films” for over three decades,Maxwell’s website

IOTA DVD Distribution   Stephanie Maxwell has been creating stunningly beautiful and original experimental animation for over twenty years. As a film artist who specializes in hand painting and engraving directly onto the surface of 35mm film stock, Maxwell employs a wide variety of materials and tools, including paints, markers, bleach, stencils, engraving tools, airbrush and many more experimental techniques.
The result is an exuberant flurry of color, form, and sound. Multi-layered, vibrant and complex, her films reveal the artist’s unique sensibility for crafting fine art in motion.

Examples Online

TIny Excerpts from Documentary on Stephanie’s process 

& a slightly longer excerpt for the same doco on youtube

End to End

Short 30 Second Preview of Please Dont Stop 1989 Film by Stephanie Maxwell

Stan Brakhage.- youtube channel

Black Ice  •     Mothlight •

actual process of making Mothlight film

  The Dante Quartett  •  

Comingled Containers


Started his Artistic Career as an abstract painter  but in the last 10 years has turned to digital animated texture- originally for health reasons but  he now seems very at home with his new found medium, and states the case very strongly for types of animation other than only traditional figurative linear narratives.

Comparison of his real and digital paint abstractions

A recent film by Jean Detheux Kol Nidrei

Works by Theodore Ushev

The texture of paint on vinyl records( and pre-cinema intertextuality)- Demoni

Arthur Lipsett Diaries – trailer

Chris Landreth’s CGI Texture -painterly and pscyhological  work


the film Ryan available on Vimeo


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