Jonas Mekas

Interview mit Klaus Wyborny

Movie Journal - Village Voice New York, 2. Juni 1975

The presentation of "The Birth of a Nation" at the Second Lonon Avantgarde / Independent Film Festival established Klaus Wyborny as one of Europe's leading Avantgarde-Film figures. I should add here that "The Birth of a Nation", in this particular case, has nothing to do with D. W. Griffith. Its a Wyborny film.

Klaus Wyborny, originally from Austria, but residing in Hamburg, taught film at Binghampton College this past winter. In April and May he came to New York to give shows at the Collective for Living Cinema and Anthology. We saw "Demonic Screen", "Percy McPhee-Agent of Horror", "Dallas-Texas, After the Goldrush", "The Ideal (Ecstasy and Beauty), and "The Birth of a Nation".

All of Wyborny's films are narrative. All concern structures and language. They are progressively abstract and indeterminate. They rely much on repetition and variation. They grow and change in mood and intensity with each repetition and each variation. His voice, in the contemporary Avant-garde film, is original, intense, personal.

Jonas: "Would you attempt to describe your own particular direction in cinema?"

Wyborny: "I've always been very interested in the narrative. My cinema has to do with stretching the narrative until it kind of collapses. I'm interested in the point of a certain critical balance. When this critical balance is achieved the audience becomes very open. So I try to expand the narrative to that point, kind of collapsing the narrative. The narrative seems to fall apart somehow, the words gain distance from the images, the cutting makes the images fall apart."

"Most of the filmmakers in America are interested in the aestetics of the single image. Maybe not all, but many are. I don't care much about the individual image. But I care about the structures, about what they do to one's mind. Maybe this is being analytical. But I analyze the time structures while I proceed in building them. Structure in itself doesnt't interest me. I am interested only in specific ones which then I kind of try to analyze. There are different ways of analyzing them. I have repetitions, this is one way. I also have decompositions of parts of the images, which is another way."

Jonas: "In comparison with your work, the films of other leading European film-makers, who work in the structural direction, are very mechanical and mathematical. Your work retains spontaneity and chance, its very open."

Wyborny: "This is probably because I am a mathmetician."

Jonas: " In what way?"

Wyborny: "I studied theoretical physics for seven years. Thats a long time."

Jonas: "It seems to me that artists whose backgrounds are in the exact sciences are more open to chance in their art, than those who come from the humanities."

Wyborny: "The latter ones kind of play a simple number game. Of course, i also play number games but I try to expand them. I try to get over the simplicity of their structures by making chance decisions in the middle of them. I break them up. For I developed a great mistrust against so called "logical" structures, thats why I left mathematics and switched to film. I don't want to repeat the same logical, rational structures and ideas that came to the European mind in 1600. I don't want to do this in cinema. A-B-C-logic in cinema doesn't interest me."

Jonas: "You have a book coming out soon?"

Wyborny: "Yes its in German. It's called "Elementary Theory of Editing". Its being published by the University of Hamburg. Its a mathmatical work."

Jonas: "Are you planning to come back to New York?"

Wyborny: "Yes, I'm looking for teaching positions in universities. In Germany there are very few places today to either show ones work, or teach. Its not a very good situation at the moment, for the avant-garde film-maker."

Jonas: "Who else is doing advanced work in Hamburg or in Germany?"

Wyborny: "There is Werner Nekes , Dore O., and Hellmuth Costard in Hamburg, von Praunheim in Berlin, Werner Schröter in Munich, Birgit and Wilhelm Hein in Cologne."