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Franciszka and Stefan Themerson
A photogram is the direct imprint of an object on photo-sensitive paper.

'Photograms in motion' means the recording in time of a series of photograms as the lights and shadows are manipulated and the objects are successively transformed. Stefan likened their syntax to the concentration of a poem and to the rhythmical patterns of music. And he insisted on their autonomy: 'it is something unique.
It is a photogram.
It doesn't represent anything.
It doesn't abstract from anything.
It is just what it is.
It is reality itself.'

The same sense of liberated discovery pervades his description of a childhood glimpse of new shapes watched during an X-ray of himself. And again, in a more lyrical form, when (in his book about film, The Urge to Create Visions) he likens the night sky to a screen on which one may watch 'a galaxy of dreams'. It is in the light of such open-ended ideas that we should approach the first films of the Themersons. It is as if, lying on his back under the 'trick-table', Stefan entered each time a poetic world, looking up at new lights in the night sky of his imagination. In Franciszka, he met a partner with an equally fearless sense of technical improvisation, and a pictorial imagination to match. It was a partnership that might have gone further in film. There were certainly more projects waiting, and no shortage of ideas. As late as 1947 they were still investigating new contacts in the London film world, but at the time funds were not forthcoming. They directed their energies into publishing, founding Gaberbocchus Press in 1948. Gaberbocchus Press was remarkable for the 60 titles they published between 1948 and 1979. It was one of the first avant-garde presses in London, and certainly among the most important small presses of the 1950s and 1960s. The conception and design of the books was also original, fuelled by the same invention and imagination as characterised their films. They wanted to make 'best-lookers' more than 'best-sellers'.

Even so, their thoughts returned to film-making occasionally during the 1950s.

Photogram by Stefan Themerson
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