Originally published in the January 2015 issue of Juxtapoz.
In 2011, Jake Fried created Nightfall, the first of his-ten-and counting animations. Headache, Last Meal, Waiting Room, Sick Leave, The Deep End, Raw Data, Down Into Nothing, Headspace and Brain Lapse would follow. Hand drawing ten or twenty frames a day, Fried scans each as he moves along. For many animators, this would mean thousands of stills and in-betweens lying around, but not for Jake. He makes his dark, primarily black-and-white designs directly on the image as he proceeds, obliterating the drawing below with layers of Wite-Out, gouache, ink and coffee. Yet for so much work in the past two years, the resulting physical product is eight thick and crusty pieces of drawing paper. They look like the accumulated mess of a painter's mixing palette layered and dried to half an inch thick.
Fried keeps these relics, but they aren't the end product. “I've never been interested in creating traditional animations using individual cells,” he says. “Rather, I approach my work as ‘moving paintings’ where one image morphs and evolves, each frame building on top of the last.” The stills visible here, for instance, are now as buried under layers of art media as a long-since-covered piece at a popular graffiti spot. Each of Fried’s animations has since racked up hundreds of thousands of online views from around the world. As a painter, he didn’t know what to expect.
“I have always reworked my images over long periods of time.” Fried explains: “I realized eventually that I was more interested in the evolution of the image rather than reaching any final state. So my animation process is really an extension of what I’ve always done. I just didn’t ‘see them’ until I began recording the process.”
For the sort of person who finds the gallery setting a most inconvenient, awkward and supremely uncomfortable place to watch anything on a moving screen, Jake Fried hears you. While the ideal setting for his animations is “in a theater or gallery setting without distraction,” putting the works online has elevated the role of pause button. “I think of each individual frame in my films as their own work of art, and online viewing encourages one to stop at any point for closer inspection.” Though you may not be able to hit pause in a museum video room, it’s entirely within reach while start naked in a dark bedroom. —Caleb Neelon