28th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
Steve Hates Fish
director: John Smith
original title: Steve Hates Fish
country: United Kingdom
running time: 5 min.
synopsisThe busy shopping street Essex Road in North London, full of signs, advertisements and signage, is devoured by the confused camera “eyes” of a smartphone translator Word Lens set to convert French into English. Its vision, overwhelmed by promising stimuli, helpfully transforms the signs into more or less absurd versions of itself. A metropolitan symphony in algorithmic translation.
“Thrashing around hopelessly in its dictionary, the app’s stabs in the dark replace words on shopfronts and displays with some very wayward guesswork, before it faints completely and enters They Live territory, planting spurious nouns and verbs on blank concrete walls and pavements. The empire of signs is overthrown, its language of control scrambled beyond repair…”
Quote source: Tim Hayes, Sight and Sound, September 2016.
biographyBritish avant-garde filmmaker John Smith (born 1952) was inspired by conceptual art and structural film in his formative years. His films, videos and installations are characterised by formal inventiveness and sophistication, playful tension between the various components of film language, subversive humour and concise narrative. As part of the section Fascination: a Retrospective of Observation, the IDFF Ji.hlava screened Smith's iconic film The Girl Chewing Gum (1976) in 2010.
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