On making art

I just came across this from Jan Svankmajer’s Decalogue, which is a kind of manifesto where he sets out a few key thoughts about making his art.  I had just been looking at Simic’s poems, which are similarly surreal (capital s) and reference childhood as a magic, macabre influence.

3. Use animation as a magical operation. Animation isn’t about making inanimate objects move, it is about bringing them to life. Before you bring an object to life, try to understand it first. Not its utilitarian function, but its inner life. Objects, especially the old ones, were witnesses to certain happenings, people’s actions, their fortunes, which somehow marked them. People touched them in different situations, while acting under various emotions, and they imprinted onto them these different mental states. If you want to disclose some of these hidden aspects of objects through your camera, you need to listen. Sometimes even for years. First you have to become a collector, and only then a filmmaker. Bringing objects to life through animation has to be a natural process. Life has come from within them, and not from your whim. Never violate objects! Don’t tell through them your own stories, tell theirs.

He talks about writing a poem or painting a picture before making a film, as a way of ensuring the quality of the work. He looks deep into the secret life of objects. Read Simic’s Fork. Marvel at the fantastic nuts and bolts of our world.



This strange thing must have crept
Right out of hell.
It resembles a bird’s foot
Worn around the cannibal’s neck.
As you hold it in your hand,
As you stab with it into a piece of meat,
It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:
Its head which like your fist
Is large, bald, beakless, and blind.

Charles Simic, “Fork” from Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems. Copyright © 1999 by Charles Simic. Reprinted with the permission of George Braziller, Inc.

Source: Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems (George Braziller Inc., 1999)


About grahamcliffordpoet

Graham is an award winning poet, based in London. He graduated from the University of East Anglia with an MA in Creative Writing, and has since published nationally and internationally, winning many awards and performing at some of the most prestigious and well known Literary Festivals. His debut collection, The Hitting Game, is published by Seren.
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