The Projections of a Curious Citizen 

The Decades-Spanning Career of Soap Bubble Documentarian George Andrus

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A widower in his 70s acquired a camcorder. He pointed it toward the scenery around his house. He pressed record.

From 1934 on, George Andrus enjoyed the camera as an expressive medium. By trade he was a bank teller, but in his off-hours he framed the world in his viewfinder. Occasionally, one of his photos would make it into a newspaper—in 1970, "Morning Dew" was named Photography magazine's best color slide in America. But limelight fades, and it wasn't until recently that there has been a renewed interest in Andrus' work.

Culled from 500 hours of footage, Andrus' Dancing Rainbows is a 55-minute film capturing the iridescent spills that cascade through soap bubbles—Andrus inspired a character in Matt McCormick's recent Some Days Are Better Than Others, and his bubble footage is featured in the film. Using both horizontal and vertical mirroring techniques, zoomed-in bubbles parallel tie-dye patterns—but while psychedelic, they don't have the "drop acid and watch this" vibe you might expect.

To the contrary, there's something very wonder cabinet about Dancing Rainbows, something very public access. Andrus writes and performs his own scores, which have a distinct carnival quality. The editing and on-screen text feels decidedly low budget, and the voiceover work is of bygone theatrics. And though such a project might appear quaint in a world of Pixar bees and 3D ancient ruins, the charm isn't so much in the images themselves as it's in the style of presentation and the sentiment behind it.

"Welcome to the un-be-liev-able," Andrus announces to the viewer in the opening of Dancing Rainbows, friendly showmanship and sing-song entropy combining in his voice. Moments later, he sets things up for a montage of images that tell a story of space travel and alien encounters: "A triggite," he says, as if convincing us of the reality of the alien he discovered in a soap bubble. "Isn't that a whoppafanga?"

These happily named images are the real charm of it all—functioning as projections of Andrus’ personality, much like the results of a Rorschach test. And as private as these results feel when watching Dancing Rainbows, Andrus is going even further with a rare public appearance on Saturday, June 4, at the Waypost, where he’ll present a slideshow of his photography, charmingly titled The Projections of a Curious Citizen. There might even be some soap bubbles.

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