Sunday, 27 March 2011

Jan Švankmajer | 4th September 1934 – Present


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Fig 1 | Jan Švankmajer

 

Jan Švankmajer is one of the most renowned animators of the 20th century with his work similarly to McLaren spanning several mediums as well as giving a great influence and active innovation to the practice moreover. Moreover his projects have influenced some of the greats such as Tim Burton, the Brothers Quay and Shane Acker to mention but a few. Švankmajer is mostly known for his surrealist works which give an insight to a creative mind and his opinions. His collection ‘Dimension’s of Dialogue’ is evident of this showing most notable show his beliefs on issues through his artwork. Be it love, politics or even war. More noticeable is that different opinion can be brought to the attention for a viewer from different backgrounds. I conclusion his work appearing more generic and in turn ‘Švankmajer distances himself from much of the ‘surrealising’ trends we may discern in Czech cinema: ‘I am not interested...in people who are “influenced by surrealism”. For them, surrealism on the whole signifies aesthetics...surrealism is everything else philosophy, ideology, psychology, magic’ (in Hames, 1995:104)’ (Richardson, 2006; 202) from this it noticeable that the work of Jan Švankmajer is important to him as an artwork to educate his opinion’s of quite important philosophical topics yet still having them be on generic level that will ultimately connect with different ethnicities as well as cultural, and social backgrounds. 

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Fig 2 | Factual Conversation Screenshot

  ‘The Dimensions Of Dialogue’ has three acts which are made from numerous materials and can be conceived under 3 different topics of ‘Exhaustive Discussion’Passionate Discourse’ and ‘Factual Conversation’ with each depict a reaction between two or more personas.  Exhaustive Discussion depicts quite clearly the difference between 3 people which can be also extended to different cultures or social background and even religion. More noticeable the implied connations of a struggle can simple state differences in society and ultimately countries. It arguable therefore that you can have name of this animation and quite easily extend it to ‘War and Evolution’ as ideologies war is not more that a physical metaphor of an exhaustive discussion in which one may conquer another ideology and damage the structure but in attempt merges ideologies at a time in suit with the final conclusion of being under the same policy and beliefs.  However showing the discussion or war as a horrid mess as the metals, food and paper messy in to some awful substance. This is simple as it instigates the fact the ‘Švankmajer has observed, this serves to disturbs ‘the utilitarian habits of the audience, to unsettle them, [sometimes] for subversive purposes’ (Wells, 2002; 7).  More noticeably, using disgusting images to hook and drive his point and values home to the viewers. This again is noticeable in the next instalment ‘Passionate Discourse’ which shows what seems to be a discussion on whether to take a relationship to the next step as the affection bond the two characters however after this seems them fight and claw each other into a muddle of clay. Moreover this can again be conceived as Švankmajer opinion on sexual interaction and possible the downside teenage pregnancy and how the affects act on each side show the opposite sex. In these term it’s arguable that the left over clay piece which tries to gain affection can be nothing more than a baby or a metaphorical baby which tries to win over the parents from an abortion or even care. However the result of this sees them spiral in to destruction and break down in the relationship as the end clip conveys.  ‘Factual Conversation’ shows similar potential of hidden connotation as both figure have similar look and more over a similar facial construction to Winston Churchill or a stereotype of a man of power. In turn the game - seems to be a contest between matching up objects as that in politics and trying to think of the best solution and yet through differences in opinion cause their ideas to break therefore in English term conceiving the two characters as conservative, labour or even liberal.

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Fig 3 | Passionate Discourse
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Fig 4 | Exhaustive Discussion

 In conclusion, Jan Švankmajer work was a new artistic form in which like many painting and 2D design had underlying political meaning. His success however was how he animated these messages in such a way that would be generic to all cultures and even ethnicities. In turn Švankmajer introduce surrealism in a political persuasion.  Moreover, ‘Animation of the commonplace achieved the Surrealist aim of awarding meaning to the incongruous, and the skill of the animators created an intensity of suggestion’ (Graeme, 2007; 179)

(26/03/2011) 
 
Fig 2 Švankmajer Jan (1982) ‘Factual Conversation’ Screenshot
[Film Still] Dimension Of Dialougue

Fig 3  Švankmajer Jan(1982) ‘Passion Discurse’ Screenshot
[Film Still] Dimension Of Dialougue
Fig 4 Švankmajer Jan(1982) ‘Exhaustive Discussion’ Screenshot
[Film Still] Dimension Of Dialougue
Bibliography 
Richardson, Michael (2006) Surrealism and Cinema, 1st Floor, Angel Court, 81 St Clements Street, Oxford, OX4 1AW, UK : Berg Publisher
Harper, Graeme (2007) The Unsilvered Screen: Surrealism On Film, 4th Floor, 26 Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EZ : Wallflower
Wells, Paul (2002) Animation and American,22 George Square, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

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