Deutsche Version

Pathos of Distance

Director: Florian Zeyfang    → show biography   
Country: Germany
Year: 1996

In his texts, video works and installations, Florian Zeyfang critically looks at the connotations of a globalized world of media signs and at the world of ideas that they reflect.
In the animation video PATHOS OF DISTANCE, praise for the universality of technological forms of communications seen in an IBM television advertising spot compresses into a critical analysis of technology as an end in itself and as a moment which imparts sense through the graphic appropriation of trading and through distanciation by means of added textual tables. “PATHOS OF DISTANCE [Florian Zeyfang] uses the black-and-white hand-drawn animation style that has appeared in many of Zeyfang's subsequent video works. A kind of over drawing or graphical tracing of pre-existing television or film material, the animations have a deskilled, purposefully hasty quality especially suited to the critical commentary that, at their core, constitutes the two works. PATHOS OF DISTANCE draws a series of televised IBM commercials – the ones, from the height of the internet boom, which featured nuns whispering the pleasures of cell phones, Arabic men discussing the potential of networks over tea, and paleontologists downloading from the primeval jungles of Africa. Against a white ground, Zeyfang’s simple outlines of the televised images skip along like pages of flip-book. The soundtracks of the commercials remain intact, but are interjected or distanced by hand-written text frames in which Zeyfang offers wry, cut-the-bullshit readings of the depicted imagery: “These guys believe in omnipotence”; “Downloading consciousness,” etc. The work’s criticality is good-natured, accessible and never pretentious – a fast response to the fast developments of the burgeoning telecommunications era. The pathos of the work’s title may be a by-product of all this speed. Getting a handle on globalization requires more than arm-chair commentary, Zeyfang knows. The aesthetic distance produced by the work’s mimicry is hardly proportionate to the cultural and ideological distance diminished (ostensibly) by the work’s subject. […]”
(From: Bennett Simpson, "The Old Familiar Debates", in: Florian Zeyfang: Fokussy, Frankfurt / Main 2004)

“The forms used in films such as PATHOS OF DISTANCE – where Zeyfang cross-cuts two IBM commercials that celebrate the universality of media communication using an identitarian and animistic vocabulary – include not only the appropriation technique of tracing, something which Warhol already loved, but also drawn emulations of film and video picture breakdowns and interferences (in Zeyfang’s short clips and loops) which implement abstract drawing in the moving image not only as a stylistic device, but allow a critical approach (beyond the concrete narrative meaning) to different levels of representation in drawings, installations, and film media. These sorts of tracing films possess a twofold characteristic: On the one hand, Zeyfang can utilise them in various ways – on monitors or as a video projection either on the wall or on one of his architectures that form a bridge to the real space of the exhibition site. The structural and material references of these film installations are at times expanded by the use of perforations cut into the projection surfaces as quasi-drawings in the form of plans of concrete architectural situations, for example. On the other hand, this basic and simple method of tracing offers him a perfectly comprehensible technique of mimetic appropriation. What is designated in the title as “transmission” (or transmission attempt) only comes into existence via the encounter of the subjectively connoted act of drawing with the (re)animating filming and sequencing. By technologically underbidding the original material, a directly displayed distancing occurs, allowing him to reveal without much ado that the film images he appropriates in this manner are fabricated and to almost symbolise this fact. Along with their being made anonymous, the film images, emptied by the loosely applied limitation to outlines, attain what could be considered a general aesthetic character – by being copied in the drawings they are freed from their similarity and become the objects of new aesthetic and content-related debates. In the short tracing films, but also in the architectures that contextualize and comment on them, materials, media and techniques meet that are rarely utilized together in this manner: commercials and film essays as found footage, drawing and animation, video projection and spatial installation. In the image sequences that are shot frame by frame, animated drawn films come into existence that use as a basis various, usually photographically determined pictures and trace the outlines of their source material in black and white. This is achieved via the restriction to just a few animation steps in extreme condensation and rapidity. Zeyfang at once realizes and transcends the historical term caméra stylo which was still obliged to film as a medium of truth and in which the reduced use of the camera resembled the movements of a drawing-pencil. The resulting jerky image arrows convey a certain coarseness that allows one to follow a possibly existing narration only after a series of repetitions. The actual work does not lie in the meticulously precise copy of the material which is then deconstructed, but in an almost exemplarily displayed study of the history and the techniques of filmic montage.”
(From: Clemens Krümmel, "Film and Drawing in a Tape of Florian Zeyfang", in: Florian Zeyfang: Fokussy, Frankfurt /Main 2004)
Language: German, English

Technical Attributes

Format: DVD
Rental status: to rent
Version: original language version
Running time (minutes): 8
Color: b&w