Saturday night, as part of their once-monthly video screenings, the Roots and Culture gallery hosts Pizza Dog—an almost indefinable art-plosion (basically) born of animator Thorne Brandt.
Attending the event, it can be immediately surmised that Pizza Dog is more than just a video screening. Any other conclusions about Pizza Dog, however, are less readily realized and require patient participation in all of the evening’s activities. Even seemingly in-the-know attendees are scratching their heads.
“I don’t know what Pizza Dog is,” confesses one.
“Pizza Dog is Thorne, I guess,” muses another.
Pizza Dog began with the first public practice of an exquisite corpse-type exercise from which the Pizza Dog character—a dog that just can’t stop ordering pizza—was born. The crowd, mostly comprised of Art Institute grads (“a kind-of collective,” according to Joshua Conro), are encouraged to add frames to the blank poster-sized comic strips taped all along the gallery’s walls.
“The [exquisite corpse comic drawing] exercise is meant to get you to a place of Zen where you are not thinking too hard,” explains Brandt. “It’s like slowed-down art-improv that really allows for the creation of worlds.”
That place of Zen described by Brandt is, apparently, easily accessed by the crowd. Almost all attendees enthusiastically add frame after frame to the poster-sized strips between their sips of gallery-provided PBR. It seemed as if all are in their element and comfortably acquainted with Pizza Dog, but confusion still creeps below the surface.
“What is Pizza Dog?” one attendee publicly inquires.
The communal art-making portion of Pizza Dog is followed by a video presentation of Brandt’s animations, many of which are inspired by private exquisite corpse comic-drawing exercises.
The video consists of an orgy of outside-the-box images and is accompanied by Brandt, dressed as a dog with a chain of pizza around his neck, on the drums. The display draws laughs, claps and occasional sweeps of silence from the crowd, the most notable of which take place at the end.
A comprehensive definition of Pizza Dog is never provided.
“Pizza Dog is…I don’t know. It’s hilarious. It’s funny. It’s good,” sums up Vanesa Zendejas, to nods of approval. (Meaghan Strickland)