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Paul Bush: Pixilated

Pixilated, an archaic word meaning enchanted, bewitched, magical, insane, and the stop frame animation of objects and people.

In addition to Furniture Poetry, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Pas de Deux de Deux and While Darwin Sleeps, this DVD compilation includes interviews, commercials, early films and an installation by Paul Bush.

# Title Artists Run Time Year Country
1 Furniture Poetry Paul Bush 00:05:15 1999 United Kingdom
2 Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Paul Bush 00:05:15 2001 United Kingdom
3 PAS DE DEUX DE DEUX Paul Bush 00:05:30 2001 United States
4 While Darwin Sleeps Paul Bush 00:05:00 2004 United Kingdom

Furniture Poetry

Paul Bush
1999 | 00:05:15 | United Kingdom | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 |


The filmmaker accepts the challenge of the philosopher and changes not only a table but also chairs, shoes, jugs, teapots and almost everything else lying around his house.

"What prevents me from supposing that this table either vanishes or alters its shape when no one is observing it and then when someone looks at it again changes back? But one feels like saying – who is going to suppose such a thing?"

— Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty (Oxford: Blackwell, 1969)

"The Best British film on show (at Cannes) will probably be Paul Bush’s brief, brilliant animated short, Furniture Poetry, which puts apples, plates, tables and chairs through rigorous balletic paces"

— Jonathan Romney, New Statesman

"Bush’s meticulous comic timing and our own need for meaning lends these not-so-still lives a curiously expressive quality… this clever film was extremely witty and unexpectedly moving."

— Louise Levine, Sunday Telegraph

This title is also available on Paul Bush Pixilated.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Paul Bush
2001 | 00:05:15 | United Kingdom | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Film


Imagine that the camera is possessed with a psychosis similar to human schizophrenia; suppose that this disease subtly changes every single frame of film while leaving the narrative superficially intact. Then imagine that these symptoms came on as a result of the trauma of recording bizarre or horrific events, for instance those of the 1941 horror film Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde...

Adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

This title is also available on Paul Bush Pixilated.


Paul Bush
2001 | 00:05:30 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Film


The orchestra begins and a male and female dancer move from opposite sides of the stage. The dancers embrace and begin the White Swan pas de deux from the ballet Swan Lake. However this is not the ballet as it is normally performed. The choreography has been re-staged so that in every single frame the two original dancers have been replaced by the bodies of four new dancers. The movement remains continuous, the characteristics of the dancers’ movements and gestures the same, but in each frame a different person occupies the dancers’ body spaces. A parasitic population has completely taken over the body of its host while allowing its movements and mannerisms to remain intact.

With the aid of a line tester that can hold and recall a series of frames, sequences from a well-known ballet are recalled frame by frame. As each frame is recalled, a person is placed in the position that was occupied by the dancer in the original sequence. The live feed from a video assist and the frame from the original sequence are aligned. The person holds in frozen motion the dancer’s exact position. A film camera takes a single frame of this. Then the next frame of the sequence is recalled and a new person takes up position in the body space of the dancer. A new sequence exactly the length of the original is filmed.

The psychologist A.R. Luria believed that our understanding of the world is constructed from two complimentary versions of the things around us. In one we ‘catch on the fly’ what is needed of what is in front of our eyes. The other is a wold organized in time with a causal structure, a world of plans and intentions and therefore narrative. Using Luria’s model, film works in this way; a single frame held for a fraction of a second is our sample of the world around. A second frame in which elements are slightly different suggests movement. The organizational capacity of the frontal cortical system comes into play and a temporal structure is perceived – the shot.

In PAS DE DEUX DE DEUX, each frame is incompatible with the next, but the whole sequence conforms to a pattern of movement that we are familiar with – the pas de deux from classical ballet. The puzzle and the solution are apparent at the same time. But while the intellect understands the solution, the senses simply cannot untangle the puzzle, any more than we can see an isolated single frame out of a continuous sequence of film. PAS DE DEUX DE DEUX subverts the processes (both physiological and mechanical) by which film works, and uses to do this a piece of equipment (the line tester) which is an essential device employed in that most arduous and least subverted area of film trickery, animation.

The pas de deux provides a vocabulary of movement, walking, running, lifting, moments of stillness then movement again, that are ideal for this exploration of perception. But much more important, this technique adds another extra magical dimension to dance. Movement triumphs against a succession of still single frames. The sexual and sensual elements present in a pas de deux are emphasized by the sudden orgy of bodies embracing on the dance floor as if to illustrate Freud’s aphorism about sexual intercourse: when a couple make love it is not just two people on the bed but four – because both parents of the couple are influencing the actions of their offspring.

This technique, however visually intangible, is also curiously material and physical, the effect of the slight change in body movement from frame to frame providing an illusion of three dimensions. The eye of the viewer sees into the spaces around the bodies of the dancers resulting from the impossibility of each fitting exactly into the others shape.

This film is the necessary and curious result of the action of the single frame mechanism of a film camera and human movements. PAS DE DEUX DE DEUX continues the investigation of the frame and its relationship to the shot which was begun in the Bush’s earlier film Furniture Poetry and continued with Jekyll and Hyde. This is an exploration in which science is tempered with humor, and one which is led by an instinctive and experimental approach to the techniques and equipment of filmmaking rather than any prescriptive ideas either about the psychology of perception, Freudian analysis, film or ballet.

The White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake as originally danced by Marina Semenova and Yuri Kondratov in 1946 is re-enacted by Yalckun Abdurehim, Matthew Hawkins, Camille Litalien and Franziska Rosenzweig.

This title is also available on Paul Bush Pixilated.

While Darwin Sleeps

Paul Bush
2004 | 00:05:00 | United Kingdom | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Film


More than three thousand insects appear in this film each for a single frame. As the colours glow and change across their bodies and wings it seems that the genetic programme of millions of years is taking place in a few minutes. It is a rampant creation that seems to defy the explanations of evolutionists and fundamentalists. It is like a mescalin vision dreamt by Charles Darwin.

The film is inspired by the insect collection of Walter Linsenmaier in the natural history museum of Luzern. As each insect follows the other, frame-by-frame, they appear to unfurl their antennae, scuttle along, flap their wings as if trying to escape the pinions which attach them forever in their display cases. Just for a moment the eye is tricked into believing that these dead creatures still live...

"As thousands of different species swim past our eyes, a strange effect occurs. We feel to be watching a single species morphing from one phase in its history to another. It is as though we were watching a time-lapse film, albeit one charting the entire story of evolution rather than a few hours or days...The effect is akin to an evolutionary sublime--the sheer volume of information which floods our sensory apparatus overpowers our ability to identify, classify or comprehend any individual species. Accordingly our brain accepts them to be a single unity; as one monstrous shape-shifting creature in constant metamorphosis... The experience the work offers is both marvelous and monstrous; of a kind of natural history gothic where the artist is like a sorcerer's apprentice at work in the sanctity of a museum."

--Alistair Robinson

"Optimistically celebratory of nature's infinite variety... though there's a hint of a bad trip down the garden path."

--The Guardian

This title is also available on Paul Bush Pixilated.