Sunday, March 1, 2009
'Pataphysical New Zealand
In the ‘Pataphysical map of the world, like the Surrealists’ psychogeographies, certain spaces are “blank” as such, the most glaring of which was probably the country of Canada. This “planosphere of the pataphysical world” comes from the 1960, What Is ‘Pataphysics? special issue of the Evergreen Review (V4 N13). This map struck a cord with certain avant-garde poets and artists in Canada because of the fact that Canada was completely blank, an unknown country. From our point of view, the other serious omission is that the country of New Zealand is also completely blank, just southeast of Australia, where there is currently even an Institute for ‘Pataphysical Studies. These Canadians followed up by adopting a new College de Pataphysique in their native country, celebrated in typically absurdist fashion in a special issue (V4 N6/7, 1980-81) of Open Letter, one of the finest avant-garde, critical journals of contemporary poetry in the Anglophone world. The informative introduction to this issue of Open Letter was presented by the Toronto Research Group, mainly consisting of Steve McCaffery and bpNichol, and can be read in reprinted form in their Rational Geomancy collection (Talonbooks, 1992). In this investigation of a possible Canadian ‘pataphysics, McCaffery describes a super-inducement of a super-inducement, hence the double apostrophe at the beginning of Canadian ‘’Pataphysics. For our purposes, we might have to add yet another super-inducement, a New Zealand ‘’’Pataphysics, but suffice it to say, there has never been a formal presence in New Zealand. However, upon completing the second of our PXL THIS shorts in 2007, we began to describe Hammond’s Arcana as a “’pataphysical satire” and this has since raised some interesting questions about what it means for us to also be blank on the planospheric map. We have thus recontextualized all three of our PXL THIS shorts as a ‘Pataphysical Trilogy for the purposes of this rethinking of our project. In a country rather sparsely populated (both people and filmmakers) there are a few candidates for ‘pataphysical inclusion such as the experimental videographer Snake Beings and the experimental film festival operating in Hamilton among a few others.
From our point of view, and this is particularly apt in regards to the usual means of filmmaking, ‘pataphysics for us is primarily about a methodology (this is better explained in the entry on our third PXL THIS short from 2008). All three of these shorts have been constructed in rather associative and lateral ways with very few preconceptions and plans as such. They “wandered” into the form they currently take and there has been something quite revelatory and liberating about making moving image works in this manner.
While Hammond’s Arcana was identified as celebrating the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Huia, it is also the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Jarry. In the ‘pataphysical world, that sort of coincidence is not frivolous in the least.