Zbigniew Rybczyński

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Born 1949 in Lodz. Experimental film director, cameraman and lecturer.

Having completed his secondary education at the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw, he worked for a period of time at the Studio Miniatur Filmowych [the Miniature Film Study]. In 1969 he enrolled at the Lodz Film School, where he was active in the Workshop of Film Form, the leading Polish avant-garde group. His first films were Kwadrat and Take Five, both in 1972. In Lodz, he worked as a cinematographer on educational, short and feature films. In 1977, he went to Vienna where he realised Weg Zum Nachbarn and Mein Fenster. In Vienna he also set up a trick studio for an Austrian TV. In between, Zbig was involved in the «Solidarity» movement in Poland. When martial law was declared, he received political asylum in Austria. In 1983, he won an Academy Award as Best Animated Short for Tango (1980) and then moved with his family to the United States. There he founded his own production company, Zbig Vision (1987-1994), where he conceived and realized as a first filmmaker high definition videos, including Steps (1987), The Orchestra (1990), and Kafka (1992).

He gained great popularity – as well as the nickname 'Big Zbig' – thanks to his music videos for artists including Simple Minds, Mick Jagger and John Lennon, and films such as Steps (1986), The Fourth Dimension (1988) and The Orchestra (1990), acclaimed for their striking virtuosity by critics and audiences around the world.

In 1994, Rybczynski moved to Germany: in Berlin he worked at the CFB Zentrum to design new computer imaging techniques, later in Cologne he taught experimental film at the Media Arts Academy. In 2001, he returned to the US and currently lives in Los Angeles where he works for the Ultimatte Corporation.

In addition to the Oscar, Rybczynski has received numerous prestigious awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Gate Award at San Francisco Film Festival, Electronic Cinema Festival Awards in Tokyo and Montreaux, MTV and American Video Awards, Monitor Awards and a Billboard Music Video Award. His Orchestra received a Prix Italia, an award which is granted to TV productions for outstanding artistic value.


The Square (Kwadrat)[edit]

35mm, 3'30", PWSTiF Łódź, 1972. Download (WEBM)

"It was a mix of photography and animation and it took up my whole vacation - sixteen hours a day. I analysed, through a film camera, a loop of thirty-six squarish black-and-white photographs representing a human being moving in a circle. What was the logic of my analysis? I decided to photograph the loop on film and repeat it thirty-six times. During every new repetition I divided the film window - which I made in the shape of a square - so that in every circle there was an increasing number of subdivisions; today I would say different resolutions. I put a white square of paper in the subdivisions where in the photograph there was a part of a figure; where there was not, I put a black square. I had to rearrange the white and black squares at least a hundred thousand times. On the lens I put a color filter, and then rotated it - but I don't want to bore you. What is most important about this is that not being aware of computer imaging - it was 1970, in Poland - I manufactured my own 'digital' processing on film. Strange that I needed twenty-six years of work - including my work during all my next twenty five vacations - to come back to Kwadrat with full awareness and understanding of why."
Source: Zbigniew Rybczynski: "Looking to the Future - Imagining the Truth", in Francois Penz, Maureen Thomas (eds.), Cinema and Architecture: From Historical to Digital. British Film Institute, BFI, London, 1997.


35mm, 1'36", SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, 1980. Download (WEBM)


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