Saturday, April 28, 2007

how my sons play-dough reminded me of Svankmajer

When I first started working for Multnomah County Library at Central in Stack Service under Gerald Upsahl back just before MCL was officially "made" county the first year or two my fellow co-workers included amoung others one Chris Sluserenko, who owns and operates Clinton Street Video. At the time he was a student at Marylhurst like myself- unlike myself, he happened to be someone else. I believe he had a double major: music AND film, the film portion he did at NWFVC. Anyway, it was apparent to me( his parent was the art department chair, so actually it was a chair to me) he absolutely loved the full spectrum of film it seemed, and the 2 things that I will never forget which he introduced me to: 1) The Residents, which I will cover in more detail in future posts; 2) Jan Svankmajer; Russ Meyer and Ed Wood score honoreable mention as far as what impact they had on my creative world view. Svanky-baby, as I affectionately refer to him, is one sharp cat, and be careful for he will scratch you and if you are making a marinara sauce and using alot of garlic like I am, it will surely sting. I can only say that no matter what I mention, you could make a connection between Svankmajer and the other thing, we will call it x, for sake of argument, because his deftly edited live action normal speed film with stop-motion animation of real objects puppets, material, collage, made to look like material and/or the original collage source images and the collage of images and made to appear as other things and clay as both wet tactle earth and as representative of images and things specific to his experience and to each of our experiences, in a surrealist constructivist/deconstructivist approach....kinda like a magician, he pushes the limits of illusion and perceived reality, the perceived reality being film. We often just accept the clear film with a series of transparent images printed on it shown through a lens projected with light onto a flat surface as reality. So maybe you now see how you can connect most things to a Svankmajer film.
However, there are very few filmmakers from the past and even fewer in the present which I would consider in the same neighborhood(and what a ghastly, grisely, viscous and vicous neighborhood this is- Mister Rogers land of make believe turned literally and figureatively inside out!!!!!) Michael Gondry, Guillermo Del Toro, David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, Darrel Aronofsky, Jean-Pierre Geunet, and the Brothers Quay would be the ones who could handle the task of carrying on his work if say he would pass away before a job were done. Well along with those names add the director of "Babel" Alejandro González Iñárritu and Christopher Nolan as the most fascinating and original filmakers working today.

So...I usually just do simple shapes when I work with playdough sitting at the table with Julian but once a couple of weeks ago, I remember making a face. And then it happened again today. And then, sitting down with clay a 2nd time in the day, Julian asked me, "papa, are you going to make a face?" and I thought to myself "why yes.....yes I am." It is flat because I had rolled out the playdough first, not thinking at that time that it was going to be anything, just pushing the material around on the table....and soon on a subconscious level I was thinking of the Svankmajer short animated classic "Dimensions of dialogue and I started making that head- creepy yet modeled as one would a natural, realist profile of a man around my age.
Soon, julian was trying to get my attention, but to no avail - I was sucked into the process!!! Yay!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like Svankmajer too, have you ever watched the Brothers Quay? Very amazing animation. - MF