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Video Essay. T’es fou Jerry!

A video work reducing Tashlin’s “The Geisha Boy” (1958) to its pregnant moments, encoded at random into a fleeting succession of keyframes.
Part of the Jerry Lewis tribute A MUBI Jerrython
This piece is the immediate product of an enraptured first viewing of The Geisha Boy (1958) by means of a HD rip that was the final stop on a trajectory from VistaVision to Blu-ray. In a process that I like to think of as being somehow akin to those single-reel Super 8 “digests” or “cut-downs” of Hollywood productions that circulated in the years before VHS, a feature film is reduced here to its highlights—its “pregnant moments” encoded at random into a fleeting succession of keyframes. When I first completed this previously unreleased piece, a sense of dissatisfaction lingered with what I initially took to be a gesture of appropriation. Coming back to it five years later with the current homage in mind, I understood that it makes considerably more sense, not as an independent work, but as a video essay. And to extend the metaphor, one might say that this silent commentary has something automatic about the way that it was written. By exploiting a glitch produced by moving VLC’s playhead back and forth across the timeline, it was recorded live, in a single take—with the exception of the final moments, which now seem to hint at a slapstick resurrection.

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