The Wire

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In Writing

Robert Beatty's Portal

November 2013

Follow Hair Police and Three Legged Race's noise man Robert Beatty as he cuts a path through the digital jungle through experimental animations and electronic scores. Beatty is interviewed about his work with film maker Takeshi Murata by Nick Cain in The Wire 358.

Walerian Borowczyk’s Les Jeux Des Anges (1964) Still+from+Walerian+Borowczyk%26rsquo%3Bs++Les+Jeux+des+Anges+%281964%29
A dark, nightmarish vision of a factory that manufactures (or disassembles) angels, made by Walerian Borowczyk well before his soft core pornography days. In it, composer Bernard Parmegiani reworks a chant from Polish concentration camps into a church organ piece bookended by cacophonous insectoid clattering accompanying the bizarre hybrid mechanical/organic abstractions rushing past the viewer.

Jan Svankmajer’s Et Cetera (1966)Jan+Svankmajer%26rsquo%3Bs+Et+Cetera+%281966%29
This is my favourite Svankmajer short and something of an anomaly for him. Simple, paper cut-out animations depicting increasingly futile situations looping back on themselves feature a manic soundtrack by frequent Svankmajer collaborator Zdeněk Liška. The repeating theme of melodic percussion and harpsichord interrupted by staccato electronic blasts fits the frantic and frustrating nature of the film perfectly.

Lillian Schwartz’s Pixillation (1970)Lillian+Schwartz%26rsquo%3Bs+Pixillation+%281970%29

One of the earliest examples of computer generated film made by digital pioneer Lillian Schwartz at Bell Labs. It's a combination of organic, painted abstractions and pixelated (naturally) cellular automata patterns clashing in a retina-burning frenzy that grows in intensity with each second. The score by Gershon Kingsley, is by far the harshest work I've ever heard from him. A proto-techno white noise beat is buried by electronic sirens and sledgehammers as the piece evolves into a minimal ping dripping with metallic reverb.

Yoji Kuri’s The Midnight Parasites (1972)Midnight+Parasites
Japanese animator Yoji Kuri's surreal portrayal of parasitic relationships inspired by the painting of Hieronymus Bosch. The soundtrack is a synthesized piece of baroque exotica by Kaoru Tomita (who I can find no information on), not too far removed from Mort Garson or Tonto's Expanding Head Band. A few of Kuri's earlier shorts had featured animation set to spare, chaotic music by Toru Takemitsu and Yoko Ono.

Frans Zwartjes’s Bedsitters (1973) Frans+Zwartjes%26rsquo%3Bs+Bedsitters+%281973%29
Everything about this film seems improvised, although I'm not sure it was. In typical baffling Zwartjes fashion, a few people roam around a house, sometimes interacting, but it's often hard to tell who is who. It seems that the players on the soundtrack (Zwartjes, his brother Rudolf, and longtime STEIM director Michel Waisvisz) are reacting to each other in similar ways to the characters in the film, moving around the spaces without any consideration for each other except where absolutely necessary. There was talk a few years ago of a box set of the soundtracks from Zwartjes' films, and I hope that becomes a reality someday.

Toshio Matsumoto’s Atman (1975) Toshio+Matsumoto%26rsquo%3Bs+Atman
A menacing figure in a demonic Noh mask sits perfectly still, while the camera does all the work. Shot in saturated infrared color, the camera zooms in and out and circles around the figure in a nauseatingly strobing motion while Toshi Ichiyanagi's relentless ring modulated score takes the figure into an outer space that exists at the bottom of a sewer.

Marcell Jankovics’s Feherlofia (1981) Marcell+Jankovics%26rsquo%3Bs+Feherlofia
An over the top adaptation of a Hungarian folk tale that puts any other post-Yellow Submarine "psychedelic" animation to shame. The score by István Vajda is a dense, alien, claustrophobic electronic mass that wouldn't sound out of place now on a label such as Editions Mego. When viewed large and loud the combination of the sound and visuals are completely overwhelming, and unlike much else I have ever seen.


great stuff. thanks for sharing!

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