FORM YOUR MIND
Jan Pfeiffer’s cel animation combines three places designed to effectively shape not only human behaviour, but also human understanding of the world. Zlin – an industrial city, an emanation of the intentionally capitalist organisation of space and production system, Nowa Huta – the first socialist town in Poland, laying foundations for the development of heavy industry and the new man, The Camp – a futurist project which is at once an innovation incubator, and educational space for creative elites.
Simple building outlines, architecture-to-be, materialise on the drawing board offering a view of the world. Following the convention of box set, the world is being filled with more and more sketches generating simple shapes. Particular sections transform into one another, transferring us to the mentioned spaces like backstage scenery.
Form Your Mind is a drawn meditation on form as an expression of thought, and on thought as content adjusting to the form given to it. Like an omnipotent architect’s sketchbook, it reveals consecutive stages of his vision swiftly captured in drawings. According to the theory of art popularised in the modern period, the sketch was a perfect way of catching a moment – its immediacy ensuring the truthfulness of expression. Intellectual framework for the animation was also inspired by poet and painter William Blake. His spirit is present at many levels. From specific details, including the famous compass from the Ancient of Days, suspended above the scene, to the general impression of the work, and its praise for creativity and imagination. Blake often depicted the process of creation and generation of new ideas as one similar to the work of an architect drawing shapes on a piece of paper.
Guiding us through the histories of the three places related to methods of formation, Jan Pfeiffer takes us across three types of the utopia of intentionality. The path leading from a beast appearing on the stage of the theatre of the world (a motif borrowed from Blake’s The Ghost of a Flea) to the civilised human can be seen as a desired trajectory of suppressing urges, and deliberate action aimed to achieve a particular purpose – a demand eagerly accepted by all the types of space sketched by the artist.
Although originating from diverse contexts and ideologies, Nowa Huta and Zlin bear strong similarity for Pfeiffer. Not only as industrial cities with similar spatial divisions governed by rationality. The kinship lies in thinking of them as tools in determining human behaviour. Both places have, in a way, been through a history of utopia, being products of the desire to form a new social organisation. Their futurist ambitions have become tradition, and undergone revision.
The space now facing challenges to come is The Camp. A place where unbound imagination, frequently contrasted with pragmatic thinking, meets start-up, creativity, and innovation. In other words, imagination as a factor generating additional value is incorporated into knowledge-based capitalism. Spiral steps ascending endlessly towards the skies – one of the recognisable motifs related to future – will not necessarily take us there. In the combination of three realities formed by different social and economic contexts I sense an ambivalent attitude to each of them. Though their power to attract, and to allure cannot be denied, projects such as Zlin, Nowa Huta, or The Camp, have a demonic side to them too, I believe – the urge to programme human lives as effectively as possible, to boost productivity, to promote ideology, creativity, or innovativeness. The principal idea behind them, reflected in the layout and organisation, is the will to influence people by using urban planning and/or design, to direct attention to predetermined domains of activity.