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Keep it in Motion - Classic Animation Revisited: 'Furniture Poetry'

Every Thursday, Chris Robinson takes a look at films from animation’s past. This week's featured short is Furniture Poetry by Paul Bush.

'Furniture Poetry' by Paul Bush

Furniture Poetry (2000) is a playful philosophical piece inspired by a Ludwig Wittgenstein quotation: “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?” Bush contributes to the question by manipulating tables, chairs, and various domestic objects into a frenzied and comical dance. The result is a relatively simple film that satisfies both eggheads and children. “I would have quite happily made a version of the film without the Wittgenstein quotation and I think it makes some people nervous as it sounds more profound than either I or Wittgenstein meant - he was of course being playful himself at this point.”

Children, in particular, are captivated and amused by Bush’s choreography. “I like Furniture Poetry,” adds Bush, “because it is a film that seems to give a lot of people of all ages, including the youngest children, happiness. People have written long after to tell me how moved they were by The Albatross but you don't get an immediate reaction like you do with laughter.”

Furniture Poetry is an important bridge between Bush’s early scratch films and his later single frame works. The fascination with perception and everyday objects in Still Life with a Small Cup (1995) continues in Furniture Poetry; however the single frame technique adds a new dimension, an unsettling and fractured choreography that shatters the whole into constantly shifting fragments that merge and disband simultaneously.

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.