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Ergo Phizmiz

Ergo Phizmiz Portal

February 2013

Follow Ergo Phizmiz's choice links of the web. The rogue collagist and radio artist is featured in an interview with Clive Bell for The Wire 349 issue.

The Films of Piotr Kamler
My initial difficulty in putting together this list was making a “best of the internet” without just listing the entirety of Ubuweb. In the end I picked out Kamler's extraordinary animation cinema. His technically astounding films combine stop-motion and early CGI to create mysterious riddles and games. One of his films features the most complex piece of headwear I've ever seen. The soundtracks, some of which are also on Ubuweb as MP3 files, are by the likes of Luc Ferrari and Bernard Parmegiani. Delicious!

Mr Banana's Do Not Descend Into Gloom
I was present at this performance (you can see me about halfway through trying to fix a dodgy plug) of Oblivian Substanshall, aka Mr Banana. He's not just one of the most singular people I've ever met, but also a brilliant painter, songwriter, and verse writer. This performance, titled Do Not Descend Into Gloom took place at a sort of avant-garde cabaret in somebody's living room. It's a lovely performance, and chock-full of audience participation as the world crumbles around Mr Banana, who nevertheless refuses to descend into gloom.

Les Antliaclastes Marionettes
A puppet company based in central France, masters of stagecraft and creators of ambitious, imaginative, electromechanical operas, in which teenage Satans battle for space with giant-headed William Burroughs' on an immense pinball table, or a huge skeletal Pere Ubu gives birth to live spawn whilst a tooth-arsed Mandrill screams. Headed by Patrick Sims, formerly of Buchinger's Boot Marionettes, their website features just enough video clips to wet your palate.

Stefan Themerson & Language
The work of Stefan and Franciszka Themerson was introduced to me only very recently, when we took my opera of Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman to Rotterdam. Since then I've been having regular baths in their work, which ran across experimental short films, amazing elliptical sort-of novels (described by, I think, Bertrand Russell as “philosophical Dadaism”), children's books, and their publishing company Gabberbocchus Press (“Gabberbocchus” is the Latinization of Jabberwocky, apparently). This film features Themerson as himself, explaining his ideas of “semantic poetry”, to “expose the demagogues as thieves”.

The Special Effects of Karel Zeman
A documentary about Zeman's world. Described as "the Walt Disney of Czechoslovakia", he made gorgeous fantasy films where the main storytelling medium was the compositing of layers, both in-camera and in the edit suite. His methods are certainly a huge influence on me, both in image and sound work. The films he makes are full of surprising images, adorned with countless flourishes borne of years of technical expertise. His film Inspirace, for example, takes place inside a bubble of water in a leaf, and is animated almost entirely using hot blown glass! His creations have their own, unique atmosphere, and his use of compositing and layers gives a sort of fragility to the worlds his live action actors exist in.

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