The Work Cut shows a montage of 95 shots from 95 movies ranging from the late 1940s to the 2010s in which the human body is idealised and depicted as practically indestructible and highly mutable as well as being the cause of pain, anxiety, hysteria and delusion. It ties the phantasmagorical idea of the fully transparent, controllable and infinitely malleable body to the notion of corporeality as a wound that can never heal. The concept of the body that can be formed and disciplined is juxtaposed with a physique that is fragile and vulnerable to danger, one that terrifies, ages and dies.
“The bodies that spring from Girardet and Müller’s cutting board have lost their sharp outlines, instead becoming what Deleuze calles 'anorganic bodies' – decentralised bodies that have been stripped from their organisation and have turned into 'zones of indiscernibility' in which various persons blend into one another, and where technology seamlessly merges into body parts and vice-versa … a wholly new corporeal sense arises from the images and transfers itself onto the stunned viewer, who has no choice but to be overwhelmed by these unfamiliar sensations.”
- Johannes Binotto
Funded by the German Federal Filmboard
Cut was awarded the Best European Short Film of 2013 Award at the Curtas Vila do Conde Shortfilm Festival.
The dual slide-projection Everything Not Said (2014) traces the boundaries between the body’s interior and exterior. A large collection of single frames showing bandaged heads was compiled from movies, newly arranged and paired with extracts from psychiatric health questionnaires. Caught between transparency and opacity; vulnerability and one’s armour against it; individuality and anonymity, the faces condense into a panopticon of voyeurs under observation.
"One is unaware of the process as it is happening,” these ten words – derived from a sentence on a theory of language acquisition – have been assigned to the fingers belonging to a patient’s both hands, in the video-loop Reflex (2013). Through a clinical trigger-response-test, a doctor presses onto the fingertips in various sequences, thus evoking the words. Whereas these words then appear correctly in the images, the person under examination speaks the binary opposite of the word they are typing out loud.
Voice: John Smith
Music: Giacomo Puccini
The film empathizes with childlike realms of imagination, accompanying a boy's stages of development towards individuation and disentanglement. The boy is awestruck at first, but then sets out on a phantasmatic journey. Conditions of detachment emerge visually against an emotionally charged aria expressing a desperate yet futile longing for proximity. Embracing elements of feature films, fairy-tale moments gone astray, and vintage science fiction motifs, Meteor takes its viewers along on a voyage from the children's room to outer space.
"The cinema of 2011 reminded us, of course, that there is also a cosmos outside film and politics, with God and Grace and Leaves of Grass galore. Straying a bit from the bombastic general line, one could also find the cosmic side of things, and things of great beauty, in Girardet and Müller's short film METEOR."
- Regina Schlagnitweit
Funded by Filmförderungsanstalt - German Federal Filmboard distribution funded Nordmedia Fonds GmbH
Meteor was awarded the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Bucharest International Experimental Filmfestival in 2012 and the ARTE award at the Hamburg International Short Film Festival in 2011
The film has been screened at the Ann Abor Film Festival (2013), the Tampere International Short Film Festival (2012), the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival (2012), the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen (2012), the Viennale (2011) and the Venice International Film Festival (2011), a.o.
Translation of the aphorism If I Don't See I Am Blind, I Am Blind, But if I see I Am Blind, I See into braille by substituting each 6 dot-cell with images.
In Eye, a film sequence is dissected into five moments – reminiscent of phase photography. The circular shape of a spotlight is beginning to glow, to shine and then to disappear in semidarkness again. The high-gloss surfaces of the prints evoke the association of one's own reflection in the pupil of a counterpart when we are eyeball to eyeball with one another. The spotlight's stages of glowing, then gradually disappearing into darkness are mirror images of the constriction and dilation of the pupil.
Installation view Galerie Lukas Feichtner, Vienna, 2010
Actors: Elisabeth Masé, Ralph Kostrzewa
Camera: Christian Girardet
"The look with which we comprehend the world and which it casts back at us in response breaks up in Contre-jour into disquieting fragments. Blurs, flashes and stroboscope montages disintegrate reality into shadowy images that inflict pain on the eye. A spot light precisely cuts the individual out of the darkness. “I wish you could see what I see” remains futile hope. Blind spots gape between self-perception and the perception of others."
- Kristina Tieke
"The central character of Contre-jour is the eye. As a physiological perception of shape, space, colour, light, dark. As the source and reflection of what sight doesn’t see. As a fragment of a body condemned to remain in the shade. As a substitute for a tactile relationship with the world. As a glance, a sexual impulse, the fixing of desire. Turning the eye on itself means fragmenting the world, dislocating its forms, extinguishing consciousness. As Victor Hugo foresaw, 'the eye was in the tomb'."
- Yann Lardeau
"In Contre-jour mischen sie [Christoph Girardet & Matthias Müller] selbst gedrehte Szenen mit kunstvoll verfremdeten Ausschnitten aus Hollywood-Filmen, und weil dieses Mal das Thema Blindheit und deren Heilung die Hauptrolle spielt, flackert das Licht so durchdringend, wie einem geheilten Blinden wohl der erste Sonnenstrahl erscheinen mag. Am Ende ahnt man, was es bedeutet, von der Schönheit der Welt geblendet zu sein."
- Michael Kohler
Funded by Filmförderungsanstalt - German Federal Filmboard, BKM
Music: Perry Como
"Like an eye that cannot see, black separates the images of film clips that show blind people taking on the limits of their condition, bumping into walls and furniture as though imprisoned in hostile and unnatural environments. From Bette Davis’ famous eyes in Dark Victory to Jessica Alba’s in the recent The Eye, Mia Farrow in Blind Terror and Uma Thurman’s anxiety in Jennifer 8, passing by way of Jane Wyman in Magnificent Obsession and Elizabeth Hartman in A Patch Of Blue, all the way to the convulsive frames of Butterflies Are Free and the explicitly horrific images of Macabre. In this net of references, the soundtrack plays with the images, anticipating the contents of the next black frame, while the notes of Perry Como’s version of Faraway Places accompany the difficult movements of the blind."
- Review from the 28th Torino International Film Festival, 2010
Production, concept and editing: Christoph Girardet & Matthias Müller
Sound: Dirk Schaefer
Departure and arrival, end and fresh start, exoticism and zest for adventure, broad perspective and introspection: in Locomotive shots from hundreds of movies take off on a phantom ride through mediatic remnants on three projectors standing immediately adjacent to each other.
"The history of cinema began with a train, and it is as if this train has been driving into film history ever since; as if destined to return unendingly, it crisscrosses the Lumière films and their ghost train journeys, it drives the phantom rides of early cinema and is then embraced with open arms by the avant-garde as one of the primary motifs of the cinématographe, a motif which, more than almost any other, allows us to engage with the modern experience of visuality."
- Christa Blümlinger
- Matthias Müller
Promises is based on a selection of sixteen prints from my collection of old wedding photographs. The video pulses violently from one bouquet of red roses to another, focusing on their unifying similarities. Animating still photography into moving images, Promises zooms into the very centre of the images – single buds – in a nervous, flickering rhythm, as if it were searching for a message hidden deep under the surface. By mere means of editing, the meticulously arranged bouquets seem to explode in aggressive eruptions.
A man faces his approaching death. He takes a journey, his last perhaps, and ends up at the Pensão Globo in Lisbon, where he sets out on aimless excursions through the city. The film depicts a life in a state of transition. "Sometimes it’s like I’m already gone, become a ghost of myself."
“The film presents one visually dominant theme, the constant superimpositions, or double exposure effect, of what is being shown. The man seems to be accompanying himself as a ghost, the world escapes him continually, things are no longer fixed in their proper places; nothing remains still. The shots of the man in the hotel are taken from two slightly different positions but from the same distance, the lighting is intensified and is slightly distorted in time and space. The external shots, however, are taken from two markedly different perspectives. [...] What is being shown are the different possibilities for one visual expression, possibilities that are then interwoven. [...] While the man is roaming the streets of Lisbon, his entire body is never shown. To show a "complete" body could have multiple meanings, but to reduce it to just legs – a series of superimposed shots akin to an incessantly repeated metonymy – allows for the condensation of many images into one, the visual concept of walking, of 'going'. Even Dirk Schaefer’s soundtrack adopts this technique of repetition. At its core there is a simple melody that is constantly repeated, evoking a melancholy state of mind. Interwoven with the melody are quotes, from Fado melancholy as well, accompanied by daily noises that give volume to the pictures and create a spatial effect. An off-screen voice informs us of the main character’s thoughts, weakening and essential thoughts of a man resigned to die. The end of PENSAO GLOBO is announced by the covering up of a naked chest. [...] There have been too many attempts to transform poetry into film in the history of cinema. PENSAO GLOBO, however, represents something else. Müller does not limit himself to an attempt to translate an existing verbal structure into images. His success lies in being able to repeat in cinema the same structural act that is the basis of poetry."
- Peter Tscherkassky, "Ein Dichter der Bilder", Pesaro 2000
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
Best of the New Screen, Images Festival, Toronto 1998
First Prize, Semana de cine experimental, Madrid 1998
Certificate of Merit, San Francisco International Film Festival 1998
Best German Short Film of 1997, Preis der Deutschen Filmkritik
Distinction "Highy Recommended", German Commission of Valuation 1997
Prize of the Interfilm-Jury, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 1997
Mention Spéciale, Festival internazionale del film Locarno 1997
Prix de la Presse, Festival du Court-Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand, 1997
"While the manifest subject of the film is the inevitability of loss, recurring images of textures and surfaces start to offer a counterpoint to these mournful notes. We watch city workers carefully cleaning a stark, white wall - is it an act of folly or a gesture of love? Brasília clearly emerges as a monument to the failure of abstraction, but Müller’s film further insinuates that there might have been another desire at work here all along, beside and beneath the city’s quixotic struggle against gravity. The aim of the modernist structure is not simply to direct the gaze skywards, but to provide a vantage point from which one might better re-view the earth. Müller’s sensual overhead shots of the Brazilian savannah create a potent contradiction, suggesting that the modern longing for transcendence has always contained an equal and opposite desire for an ecstatic return. Paradoxically, Müller appears to be suggesting that the urge to rise above the earth contains something more than just a desire for disembodiment and control; indeed, it is possible that abstraction and eroticism might actually name the two sides of a single movement."
- David Conner, "From THE MEMO BOOK to the PHOENIX TAPES",
San Francisco Cinematheque, program notes, April 2000
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
Main Award, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 1999
Award of the Association of German Film Critics for the best sound design 1999
1st Prize, Viper Festival for Film, Video and New Media, Lucerne, 1999
Prix Spécial, Côte court, Paris-Pantin 1999
3rd Prize, Hamburg International Short Film Festival 1999
Award of the Youth Jury, International Leipzig Festival of Documentary and Animated Film 1999
Distinction "Recommended", German Commission of Valuation 1998
Nominated for the "European Film Award" 1999
Voted 4th Best Film of the Year by Jit Phokaew on Senses of Cinema
- Peter Tscherkassky, "A poet of images", Pesaro 2000
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
"Highly Recommended”, German Commission of Valuation, 1993
1st Prize, Filmwinter Stuttgart, 1993
1st Prize, Filmfest Dresden, 1994
1st Prize, Filmfestival Münster, 1994