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De Artificiali Perspectiva or Anamorphosis

The Quay Brothers
UK 1991 / 14’

Anamorphosis (Greek “transformation”) – a process of deforming a picture or drawing to make it illegible when seen directly from the front, but revealing recognisable shapes and proportions when it is observed at the proper angle. The technique was especially popular in painting in the 16th, 17th and 18th century (although it fascinated surrealists and such 20th-century French theorists as Roland Barthes and Jacques Lacan). De Artificiali Perspectiva is an animated lecture in history and techniques of anamorphosis. The convention of “documentary animation” was not new for the Quays – between 1980 and 1984 they made a series of short quasi-biographic films devoted to Leoš Janáček, Igor Stravinsky, Michel de Ghelderode and Jan Švankmajer. As Michael Brooke suggests, this was part of a strategy by Keith Griffiths (producer of the brothers’ films), aimed at raising funds from television and propagating experimental animation. The film was co-authored by the art historian Roger Cardinal, and the filmmakers’ consultant was Ernst Gombrich. The commentary was read by Witold Szejbal. The Quays used anamorphosis in their other films, too, e.g. in Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life, The Comb, and Stille Nacht IV.

Jakub Mikurda

Bracia Quay

Twins, born in 1947. They studied in Philadelphia and continued their education at the Royal College of Art in London, where in the 1970s they directed their first short films. In the 1980s, they made commercials (for Honeywell, Walkers Crisps, and Dulux Wood Protection), music videos (the most famous one - for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer), and animations which made them popular – The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, Street of Crocodiles. In 1995, their first feature film premiered: Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life, winner of the Bronze Horse in Stockholm and the jury’s award at the Fantasporto festival. Another full-length live acting film by the brothers is The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes. Their art is inspired by literature, especially by prose by Bruno Schulz and lately - Stanisław Lem.

Cast & Crew

director The Quay Brothers
screenplay The Quay Brothers, Roger Cardinal
cinematography The Quay Brothers
music Leszek Jankowski
visual design The Quay Brothers
producer Keith Griffiths
production Koninck Studios
language English
colouration colour