Archive for the ‘surrealism’ Category


November 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Thank you kindly for your constant interest in Merzbau! Only today after a random visit here I realized that there have been  more than 13000 visitors to this blog! Merzbau is over [at least for now] but this does not mean that I will bring it down. It will remain online for archival purposes.

There has been a return to the merzposting though. There is a new incarnation of this ongoing ‘effort’ that is called Llamarinth. This is a new journal of the weird and wonderful maintained by me and a very dear person to me, houdinismother. I am sure that Merzbau readers will find many things of interest there and they will not be disappointed.

I would be glad to see you and maybe hear from some of you over at Llamarinth!




word from a friend / Satan bouche un coin

May 9, 2008 2 comments

Today I got an email from my friend Mr. Stereotype, who is now pursuing his musical interests a little more intensively [reach him also @ his Myspace page]. He included a link to what at first seemed an interesting and provocative [film] short. It did live up to my expectations but it also proved a rare surreal document.

It is falsely posted on Youtube simply as Satan while the whole title reads Satan bouche un coin. It was shot in 1968 in France. Directed by Jean-Pierre Bouyxou [Bouyxou was also the writer] and Raphaël Marongiu, my first thought while watching and knowing nothing about it [someone missed his Esotika Erotica Psychotica classes, I came by this entry only after having completed my post here] was, I can see Molinier and Aktionismus here. Well I couldn’t have been closer to the truth. Pierre Molinier is the mysterious androgynous figure of the picture. Surrealist photographer and pioneering body artist, whose ‘Bellmeric’ works are full of ambiguous eros and transgendered fetish visions. Scenes in the movie actually look like Bellmer lifeforms, while others like pieces from Muehl or Nitsch Aktion films. Kenneth Anger hints are eminent.

Images of death towards the end and the introducing along with the final scene of an ass give to the disturbed tale even more perverted twists [necrophilia and scatology (?)]. Necrophilic references [if any] may also be a wink to the alleged Molinier’s sexual intercourse with his dead sister [When Molinier’s sister died in 1918, he is alleged to have had sex with her corpse while left alone to photograph it. “‘Even dead, she was beautiful. I shot sperm on her stomach and legs, and onto the First Communion dress she was wearing. She took with her into death the best of me.”]. The accompanying lugubrious music is actually working in funny ways during the film, adding falsely joyous strokes making for an even more decadent feel. Transgressive and unsettling this piece of celluloid is an obscure shard of surrealism history and aesthetics.

Mr. Stereotype thank you very much for your great suggestions and recommendations and for your kind words about merzbau in your blog.

hint: check comments in Esotika Erotica Psychotica post

Joel-Peter Witkin – L’image indélébile (1994)

March 23, 2008 1 comment

A portrait of American photographer Joel-Peter Witkin at last presented as a whole [all the 56 minutes]

Check also Witkin’s part in Vile Bodies series [1 /2]

and also former merz post on the subject

Pin screen animation | Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker shorts

March 15, 2008 1 comment

…the 1933 animated short Night on Bald Mountain, directed by husband-and-wife team Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker, made excellent use of Modeste Mussorgsky’s composition, beating Fantasia to the punch by seven years. While Alexeieff and Parker lacked Disney’s resources, the film is nonetheless one of the most visually ravishing animated films I’ve ever seen.

But while one can appreciate Night on Bald Mountain without knowing anything about it, knowing about Alexeieff and Parker’s animation technique makes the film feel like something of a miracle. The film was the first to utilize “pin screen animation”, a technique pioneered by Alexeieff and Parker. Pin screen was a form of stop-motion animation that used a large screen filled with thousands of pins (hence the name). Images were created by moving the pins in and out as needed, as lights shining from the side of the screen would provide greater illumination to the pins that were pushed out than the ones that were pushed in. The filmmakers would then photograph a single frame, move the pins slightly, and start again.

Understandably, this was a painstaking process, and it took months and even years for Alexeieff and Parker to complete their short films. Because of this, the filmmakers only finished six pin screen shorts in their lifetimes. In addition, Orson Welles fans (and I’m assuming the great majority of you fall into this category) will recognize the technique from the prologue to Welles’ 1962 adaptation of The Trial. Alexeieff and Parker demonstrated the technique for posterity in the film Pin Screen, which can be found on disc 7 of the DVD set Norman McLaren: The Master’s Edition.

via the screengrab blog


Le Nez [The Nose], 1963

More Alexeieff – Parker films to be found @

Word from a friend | New WJW video + A Chris Marker short

March 15, 2008 Leave a comment

News from my Russian friend Tikhon

A new video for an old Won James Won track, Won James Won being the crazy and extreme sound collective from Russia presented here many times before. Of the first acquaintances made through merzbau and a dmtls favourite. Watch @ youtube  The World History (Part1)

and a great short by Chris Marker
La Jetée, 1962 [imdb]



just an observation [a little upon titling]

January 5, 2008 Leave a comment

While listening last night to Midnight Cowboys From Ipanema, by Sun City Girls, I read @ RYM one pretty much useless but nonetheless interesting observation referring to this record. “Anoter one of those albums that frighteningly does sound like their title.” Wow! It is some time I am into SCG and their out-of-this-world work and I have never realized how much I did enjoy their titles. It is really hard work to pinpoint, using a few [or not so few] words, creations of abstract / surreal / freaked-out nature that tend to defy any rational explanation and conventional classification. And there is always the prominent danger of skidding to over-pretentiousness, a case unfortunately concerning many artists [whether visual or sonic].

It is a certain thin line marking a circle of precise description. Bull’s eye title. There is even the possibility of title giving a whole new meaning or aspect to the work. Not guiding [bad word when paired with art] but giving a hint of what is going on in the artists mind, enabling the audience to reach a ‘higher [or deeper?] level of enjoyment’. Another band [this is a post limited to music] that comes in mind, when thinking of song and album titles, is Nurse With Wound. Just a look at vinyl etchings on run out grooves of NWW [and related] records and their song titles will reveal the magnificence of dada and the imposing beauty of absurd humor. The perfect company for their soundscapes. And don’t forget Zappa, Residents, Zorn, Acid Mothers Temple, Merzbow, Negativland, AMM, Smegma…..[the list goes on]. Indulge yourself with the great music of artists and bands who seem to have a Collège de ‘pataphysique degree. Dig in if you dare.

Now playing: Sun City Girls – Sweet City Woman
via FoxyTunes

Street of Crocodiles

January 4, 2008 3 comments

Street of Crocodiles by Stephen and Timothy Quay.

The Street of Crocodiles is a piece of unsurpassed filmmaking. Aside from the delicate and disturbing movements of this ghetto’s inhabitants, it demonstrates the Quays’ reflexive approach to the process of animation itself. Often referred to in articles and interviews as the liberation of the mistake (for example, in Suzanne H. Buchan’s “The Quay Brothers: Choreographed Chiaroscuro, Enigmatic and Sublime”), the brothers developed a range of visual strategies which not only seek to complicate the physical space in which the characters move but also to extend the mise en scène of the narrative. The Street of Crocodiles develops their use of the camera as “the third puppet” (9) by creating a parallel between the protagonist and the camera itself. Through a combination of macro lenses, shallow focal planes and fast pans, the majority of the images within the film appear as point of view shots. By allowing the camera to become the protagonist’s vision, the environment and its inhabitants slowly shift into uneasy forms, where the furtive glance of the camera echoes the protagonist’s sharp turns, catching glimpses of occurrences that hover on the edges of the frame: unsure of his – and, by implication, our – position within this darkened warren, the film has a palpable paranoia that recalls the subtle unease of This Unnameable Little Broom and acts as a precursor to Institute Benjamenta.

As if to make this connection of seeing, or the act of seeing, more apparent, the Quays place considerable emphasis on the characters’ eyes. As Jonathan Romney explains, the eye, the act of seeing and the cinematic device that is the camera is central to the Quays’ narratives:

A major discovery for the Brothers – in The Street of Crocodiles – was the glass doll’s-eye, which by its presence or absence implicates the viewer in the film’s scopic dramas. The petrified glare of that film’s desiccated doll-hero is parodically returned by the tailor dolls he encounters, whose china heads have empty sockets illuminated from within. The myth of the eye as window to the soul could hardly be more remorselessly defused.

the rest here
part 1 /2

Now playing: Otto Kentrol – At The Water
via FoxyTunes