Jan Švankmajer: Animated Self-Portrait

In an attempt to eradicate every last atom of spare time I might have available, I’ve started playing around with iMovie, which lets me edit little videos, some of which I intend to start posting here. Last year, I tried out podcasting, and I may go back to that someday, but for now I plan to experiment with converting some of my blog posts to video, with clips and voiceover etc. It’ll be a good exercise for me, and hopefully a fun way to get to grips with the software (I know I’m late to the table on this…) and the basics of video editing. I promise to keep them brief, starting with this little excerpt from David Ehrlich’s 1989 short film Animated Self-Portraits, for which he asked 27 animators to describe themselves and their work in a brief animated sequence. These precious few seconds are the contribution of one of my all-time favourite filmmakers, Jan Svankmajer (read more of my Svankmajer posts here), who seems to take the project remit quite literally by animated a series of photographic portraits of himself. His face suddenly erupts with a wriggling mass of modelling clay, until his eyes and tongue poke through. The self-portrait is therefore partial, stuck somewhere between direct representation (the photograph) and fantastic, malleable distortion (the clay); Svankmajer is expressed through, and obscured by, the materials with which he works. There are lots of tongues sticking out in Svankmajer films. It’s an uncouth, sly motif that he uses to mark his filmic turf, but it also echoes his interests in depictions of food, eating, and the raw meatiness of human bodies and their functions. The tongue is both interior and exterior, the tool of both taste and disgust, the sensuous and the grotesque, so it makes sense for him to use it as a pop-up mascot in so much of his work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s