Animal inaugurates an exciting new cycle of video installations at the Amon Carter. In 2010, Landmarks, the public art program at the University of Texas at Austin, commissioned multimedia artist David Ellis (b. 1971) to create a video during a six-week residency there. Ellis and his collaborators, cinematographer Chris Keohane and composer Roberto Lango, created a film of the artist painting creatures, landscapes, and abstractions to an accompanying soundtrack. Animal takes you on an exhilarating journey through Ellis’s spontaneous, creative process.
Born in North Carolina, Ellis grew up in a family of musicians who inspired his belief that art, like music, should be a collaborative and improvisational process. In 1999, he co-founded The Barnstormers, a group of about thirty-five artists that combined their talents to improve the rural town of Cameron, North Carolina. Here, Ellis’s team worked together with local residents to restore and repaint barns in a cooperative and intuitive manner following the model of jazz artists.
Like his work with The Barnstormers, Animal reflects Ellis’s engagement with the Austin community and collaboration with artists Keohane and Lange. Using a time-lapse camera overhead, Keohane photographed the artist in 75,000 still images that he combined to create the animation. Lange composed the audio ranging from the sound of drums to animal roars to complement the artist’s fast-paced, rhythmic movements, and the multiple images he creates. Animal is a lively nine-and-a-half minute film that reveals moments of chance, discovery, and play in Ellis’s fertile imagination.