Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Peter Tscherkassky

Austrian filmmaker Tscherkassky's work reminds me of Paul Sharits filtered through Ken Jacobs. I've seen about a third of them and they're all manipulated found footage, often color turned to B&W and with sprocket holes visible as the image skitters loose from its original frame. (His first film, unseen by me, was yet another Aktionist document; Tscherkassky has also written about Kren.) The images overlap, get sliced & rewoven, sections darkened while accompanied usually by a minimal soundtrack of clicks and whirrs like a projector periodically malfunctioning. My favorite is 2005's Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine which reworks sections of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly into a cryptic narrative that soon dissolves among swiftly blurring images. Almost as good is 1999's Outer Space which uses Barbara Hershey from some obscure movie (turns out to be The Entity which I saw so long ago as to have forgotten) as she enters various rooms in a house, again with hints of a story but mostly like watching the world clatter apart. Some of the others don't always come together, most particularly 1985's Manufraktur which is similar to the others but uses what appear to be car commercials and the like - Tscherkassky needs something more potentially ambiguous as a source.