That Disobedience, the motto for this year’s festival, is to be understood not only politically but by all means artistically too is manifested in the series entitled Disobedient Images. As the name implies, here the term refers to the disobedience evidenced in the images and the art itself, both of which unfailingly reject any one-dimensional ascription and ideological exploitation. Documentary film footage set in new contexts and then animated, unbridled character and object animations, morphings and the pitfalls of technology: the genres documentary film and animated film enter into a dialogue, and in the process examine film in all its integral elements. Four programmes congregate analogue and digital, short and long films which originated between 1919 and 2016.
#47 (2014); Director: José Miguel Biscaya
In Reworking the Image, the frame itself takes on a recalcitrant edge. Found footage collages, animations directly on the filmstrip, shifted audio tracks and a montage that has the Nazis from Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” dancing: film provides many opportunities for disobedience against the very images it displays and any alleged claim to truth.
For example, the animation technique used in direct-on-film represents an intervention into the structure of the film base. By scratching, perforating, etching and gluing-on translucent materials, the analogue film is created without a camera. Len Lye’s “Trade Tattoo”, Naomi Uman’s “Removed” and Peter Tscherkassy’s “Outer Space” deal in this manner with found material in a creative way, plumbing the possibilities offered by cinematic space and unmasking pornographic gazes and clichés.
With today’s analogue film and cinema equipment being squeezed out and replaced, new options are coming to light: because even digital code can be cracked, too. As a result the frame becomes the victim of a pixel infestation that spreads like a virus, as in Yung Jake’s “Datamosh” and José Miguel Biscaya’s “#47”, where it takes on a nearly scenic quality.
Decasia (2002); Director: Bill Morrison
“Decasia” by US director Bill Morrison belongs to the central works that more recently come to grips with the medium of chemically analogue film and its transient nature.
Taking films found in archives made on vintage nitrate stock, the kind of base still used in the first decades of motion-picture film history, Morrison compiles tableaus from weekly newsreels, documentary footage, film-test material and acted scenes. In doing so he selects film clips in which the filmstrip is decaying. Chemical decomposition processes become visible and the original frame enters into a dialogue with the distortions, erasures and lichen-like structures that form on the filmstrip.
Bill Morrison will also be giving a Master Class on 2 November within the course of DOK Leipzig.
Swarming (2011); Director: Joni Männistö Disobedient by Nature is a reminder that animated film has been rebellious since its incipiency, offering a playground for the imagination otherwise banished from the ‘bourgeois parlour’ mentality. All kinds of mischievous fun can be had here, the laws of nature are unhinged, erotic and violent fantasies are brought to life. Bodily orifices are allowed to be eulogized in song, genitals overstated to absurd sizes, and children experience adventure while smoking: the animated film celebrates its freedom. Yet the harmlessly intended jests and impetuous shenanigans on the part of the youthful protagonists can equally turn against the perpetrators by adding a generous dash of black humour, as shown in Joni Männistö’s “Swarming” or Robert Morgan’s “Bobby Yeah”.
Jabberwocky (1971); Director: Jan Švankmajer
In Subversive Matter, the world of objects gains a life of its own and rebels: against the purposes envisaged for them, against their usefulness, and against mankind.
It’s only at first glance that the laws governing the miniature worlds constructed by the Czech surrealist and film artist Jan Švankmajer bear any closeness to ours. Tin soldiers battle with porcelain dolls there, pocketknives hurt themselves, suits dance, and irons smoothly transform three-dimensional figures into two-dimensional ones. The objects’ bizarre behaviour subverts our experience of reality, which is also the case in Mihai Grecu und Thibault Gleize’s “Glucose” and Floris Kaayk’s “Metalosis Maligna”, where rampantly proliferating metal implants gradually take over the human body.
In clay animation, or claymation, objects are even able to change their shapes in any way desired. There’s no longer a way to get one’s hands on these morphingly lawless figures. In Bruce Bickford’s “CAS’L” they invite viewers on a psychedelic trip.
The Disobedient Images series was conceived by André Eckardt, curator for animated films at DOK Leipzig. Ines Seifert, an expert on short films from Dresden, acted as curator for the series.