Laurie O’Brien

Laurie O’Brien

San Francisco, California & New York, New York, USA


My current collage animation work critically examines our interactions with technology and how digital progress simultaneously creates cognitive, spiritual, and geographical displacement and disturbances along with connections. I make films and very short motion pieces using vintage photo material in combination with images of contemporary technology such as cell phones, laptops, and screens. The source of my creative process almost always starts with hand-made, non-digital mediums such as cutouts, collage and arranging on paper that I eventually animate and edit digitally. I am deeply interested in the confusion of the imaginary and the real, the suspension of disbelief, puppets, exchange and deception in contemporary art and conversations. In graduate school, I was introduced to pataphysics, the science of imaginary solutions, and my work has been influenced by a wonderful Los Angeles project, The Museum of Jurassic Technology. In addition to my own films, I collaborate with others and curate shows as part of my art practice highlighted in my ongoing project, The Peephole Cinema. I also make small video installations of my own work using alternative and precinematic viewing devices. Recently, my academic research explores the rise of extremely short digital motion art such as GIFs and NFTs and the interactions of our shrinking attention spans. I teach and specialize in expanded photography under the broad term “motion”.


Laurie O’Brien is a multi-disciplinary artist working with video, installation and animation. Her work is inspired by the outdated, the hand-made and the mechanical combined with the digital. Recently, her work critically explores changes in human exchange and our interaction with technology. For her film material, she has been working with an old photo archive from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, the Soibelman News Archive, from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY, for many years. She is the creator of the Peephole Cinema, a “miniature cinema” collective with satellite projects in three cities: San Francisco, Brooklyn and Los Angeles. In each city, silent film shorts are screened 24/7 through a dime-sized peephole installed in a public location. Her animations and video installations have been exhibited in numerous galleries nationally and internationally, such as the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Studio Des Ursulines in Paris, the Library of Congress, Union Docs in Brooklyn, and the San Francisco International Airport. She is a Princess Grace Award recipient and her films are represented by Light Cone in Paris. O’Brien received an MFA from CalArts and currently resides between New York and San Francisco. She is an Associate Professor of Visual Media in the Photography Department at Rochester Institute of Technology.



Examples of Collage in Motion


Future Office
1920×1080 HD GIF; Digital; 2022 (in progress)

A short film and series of very short GIFs exploring our interactions with technology.


Eurydice (excerpt)
1920×1080 HD; Digital; 1:25 minutes; 2017

A collage film working with a fractured narrative inspired by the famous Greek myth. An older version of the film was commissioned by the SF Art Commission and is screening in the SF International Airport in O’Brien’s installation, The Peephole Cinema. Music by Michael McHam.


Fractured (excerpt)
1920×1080 HD; Digital; 4:06 minutes; 2016

Inspired by our relationship to the past and our contemporary disconnected world. Made at Visual Studies in Rochester, NY and at Light Cone in Paris.


SD; Digital; 3:52 minutes; 2012

Cutout Animation. Story by Richard Brautigan, Animation by Laurie O’Brien, Music by Michael McHam.


One Eye
1920×1080 HD; Digital; 2:11 minutes; 2011

The implications of looking “in” and not “out” of a peephole. An interior exploration of surveillance, looking, and a lost eye with images from the Soibelman Collection and Magic Lantern slides from Visual Studies Workshop. Screened at Automata at the Peephole Cinema in Los Angeles in 2015.