Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Eye and The Ear The Themersons' Films

  The Eye and the Ear - the short abstract film of Stefan and Franciszka Themerson. 
Artist Research, by khatia Shiuka

During the 1930s, Stefan and Franciszka Themerson were leading figures of the Polish filmmaking avant-garde in Warsaw.  This pattern continued when they moved to Paris in 1938, and then to London in 1940. The Themersons film, The Eye and the Ear, was made in England in 1944-45. The film consists of four parts, each based on a song from Karol Szymanowski's Słopiewnie. In the second and third part, the film is an abstract graphic transposition of the music. The movement and shape of the geometrical forms on the screen reflect exactly the main melodic line as well as the instrumental elements. Technically the film was made in a simple as well as an inventive way. In the second part organ-like forms were created by glass sticks. Triangular smoke-like forms symbolizing notes were achieved by passing the light beams emitted by small bulbs through a special lens. Other geometric forms were cut out of paper and superimposed. The close-ups of della Francesca's singing angels were composed so as to give the impression of one angel moving his lips to the tune. In the last part a glass container filled with water become a receptacle for small clay balls. The camera, placed as before, pointed upwards from below.
 the artists mentioned above attempted to create visual equivalents to music, the Themersons' approach was of a more scientific character. They treated the film medium as a tool for the analysis of musical structure. The film has been provided with comments which explain the precise function of each element appearing on screen.
In 1983 Stefan Themerson wrote; "Experiment exercising to see the result. We planned Europa not as an experiment in this sense but as a work of art. Yet The Eye and the Ear was done as a consciously designed experiment. Not every avant-garde dealt with experiments and not every experiment equalled avant-garde."

Stefan Themerson wrote to Alexander Ford in 1945;  "Do you remember our meeting in Paris a long time before the war? It was then that we parted with film for good. Although here, in London, more under the pressure of circumstances than a real, mad, frantic artistic need, we returned to film making and made two short pieces... Yet, as we were working on them, we realized more acutely than before that the 'film fever' had left us, probably for good."
( the Themersons more than three of the short films are lost,  disappeared.)

The Eye and The Ear,1945
Directed by Franciszka and Stefan Themerson 

( Film; Adventure of a Good Citizen, 1938, by S. Themerson)
 ‘Forward March, Everyone! Walking Backwards is Wrong!":)) 
The 1938 film, Adventure of a Good Citizen, was lost during the war and only resurfaced in 1960. When someone at the Polish film archives contacted Stefan Themerson about its survival, he wrote back wondering whether the film would still seem as subversive as it had in the 1930s. It was, like the story of the table, an allegory of independence, of the individual’s freedom to choose. 

 The Table that Ran Away to the Woods, by   Stefan Themerson,   Illustrated by Franciszka Themerson, 1940 ( Great  children's story, the table – back (in)to nature;)

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