Marching Backwards Into the Future: A workshop to practice description, animation, abstraction, and talking about justice


“When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” – Marshall McLuhan

Through a series of exercises, we will practice various ways of using language and images to describe one another. Then we’ll use the animation software Dragonframe to create short stop-motion animations in response to our earlier investigations and their results (no prior experience with Dragonframe necessary). Throughout the day we’ll experiment with strategies for discussion as well as strategies for making things.

We may also optionally talk about justice while blindfolded, conjure our deepest synesthetic capacities, and walk backwards. We will definitely eat a warm vegetarian lunch (or vegan, depending on participants’ preferences).

Some source materials for the day include an audio recording of police radio during the 1965 Watts uprising; the conflicting oral testimonies of witnesses to the death of a young striking steel worker in a 1949 clash with police in Umbria, Italy; and a short video documenting dance as a form of political speech.

Some topics for discussion could include race, class, housing, and the history of social movements in Los Angeles; incarceration, decarceration, and the basic human rights struggles of individuals and communities; language, art, abstraction, and activism. Participants are encouraged but not required to bring questions or topics that they’re interested in discussing with a group in relation to the creative process.


Kate Dollenmayer is a filmmaker who practices description as a regular part of her job as a film archivist. She is the EPFC Los Angeles Artist in Residence for the months of November and December.

Emily Abendroth is a poet and anti-prison activist currently living in Philadelphia. She comes to EPFC on the tail end of a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts.

Tuition: $50/$40 EPFC members (sliding scale; includes lunch and art supplies)


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