Essence of Humour



The terms “densifying the content of the image”, “multiple overlappings of different angles” and “annulling of the classic perspective” are also completely valid for the film that opens Programme 2, Freeze Frame, one of my first films in Super 8. Freeze Frame is presented as a savage collage of images in violent movement, recorded entirely in Berlin, my second place of residence between 1979 and 1984, and whose density can be read as my first nod to the Californian cinematographer Patient O’Neill. I have always acknowledged his work (along with Peter Kubelka’s) as the most important influence on my work.

This programme includes the film Parallel Space: Inter-View from my intermediate, pre-darkroom period, made entirely with a normal 135 format analogue camera, as well as two films made with pure found footage: Happy-End and Shot-Countershot, which could well be considered comedies.

Such a qualification is definitely not applicable to Parallel Space: Inter-View, a dark film about the insurmountable separation between the thinking, perceiving individual and the world around him; about the being-separated, the having-to-remain-alone as inescapable human condition.

Although it isn’t quite a comedy, Coming Attractions, the first of two films in this programme made in a darkroom, is full of knowing nods. It is composed from test shots for advertisements, in which directors who are not exactly masters of their profession give instructions to models who don’t know how to act to repeat gestures and given movements over and over again. Coming Attractions is a documenting of involuntary failure.

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine is also a found footage film, based to a large extent on images from Sergio Leone’s masterpiece The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. My intention was to distil from this existentialist Western a kind of farewell to all the language of symbols of analogue film, including leader strips, synchronization marks, cut marks and many other signs that exist purely at the service of work in the laboratory and the projection booth, which are never shown in the cinema itself and which nonetheless form the basis of analogue cinema, since their absence would cause widespread chaos in production and projection. It is to these endangered marks, increasingly emptied of content, that Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine is dedicated. One might say that all my film oeuvre is dedicated to analogue film, to its specific beauty, which could never be replaced by another medium of moving image. A beauty that we may be about to lose forever.

*Translated from the Spanish translation of the original German text written by Peter Tscherkassky

9’ 38’’ | 16mm | Color - B&W | Mono

1983

Screening format: 16 mm

Austria

Freeze Frame

Freeze Frame is the best example of a filmic significator from which the transparency and invisibility has been removed. Material which has been repeatedly re-filmed (a construction site, a rubbish incinerating plant, industrial graveyards, an antenna and line-drawing like frame that continually falls over) are exposed on top of each other. The result is that an unambiguous reading of the picture, to say nothing of their positioning in a fictive room, cannot even be attempted. This type of calculated picture removal is carried to the point where the film strip is stopped in the projector (and hence the title) and burns. <br /> (Michael Palm)

18’ 20’’ | 35 mm | B&W | Mono

1992

Screening format: 35 mm

Austria

Parallel Space: Inter-View

Photographic processes—the material transformations involved in recording, developing, printing, and in the case of film, projecting—function as metaphors for psychological processes. What Tscherkassky does is to take various tropes of 1960s structural filmmaking (derived from Landow, Kubelka, Frampton, Gehr and Sharits) and run them through a Lacanian psychoanalytic sieve. In both form and psychological content, Parallel Space is deeply reflexive. <br /> (Amy Taubin, “Flash Floods: Parallel Space: Inter-View”)

10’ 56’’ | 35 mm | Color - B&W | Mono

1996

Screening format: 35 mm

Austria

Happy-End

Happy-End is a found footage film: the reworking of someone else’s home movies from the 1960s and 70s. The sequences selected are taken from many hours of the staged private life of “Rudolf” and “Elfriede”, pivoting on demonstrative celebrations, alcohol and cake consumption together.

22’’ | 16 mm | B&W | Silent

1987

Screening format: 16 mm

Austria

Shot-Countershot

Not a stage direction, but rather something very concrete is hidden behind the technical term. Something which betrays a little of the yearning for intelligent and playful dealings with the medium of short film.... <br /> (Marli Feldvoss)

25’’ | 35 mm | B&W | Stereo

2010

Screening format: 35 mm

Austria

Coming Attractions

Tscherkassky’s recent, most beautiful film Coming Attractions creates a complex mosaic of cross-references—both formal, between shots, and historical, between periods and genres. This film demonstrates the extreme textual density found footage can achieve, interweaving early cinema, the avant-garde and commercial advertising. ... It explores the solicitation of the viewer’s attention and desire implied by the term “attraction,” through the coy glance and the revealing display. In the Kuleshov tradition, Tscherkassky absolutely creates a new film from his found footage, but still he delivers to us discoveries drawn from the original footage, revelations about the nature of film and our fascination with it. <br /> (Tom Gunning)

17’’ | 35 mm | B&W | Stereo

2005

Screening format: 35 mm

Austria

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine

The hero of Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine is easy to identify. Walking down the street unknowingly, he suddenly realizes that he is not only subject to the gruesome moods of several spectators but also at the mercy of the filmmaker. He defends himself heroically, but is condemned to the gallows, where he dies a filmic death through a tearing of the film itself. <br /> Our hero then descends into Hades, the realm of shades. Here, in the underground of cinematography, he encounters innumerable printing instructions, the means whereby the existence of every filmic image is made possible. In other words, our hero encounters the conditions of his own possibility, the conditions of his very existence as a filmic shade.

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