January 25, 2005
Copy Shop, 2001
Each morning, a fastidious and unassuming copy shop owner named Alfred Kager (Johannes Silberschneider) wakes up in his empty apartment and begins to silently perform the empty, familiar rituals of his mundane existence: a brisk facial wash, a cursory survey of pedestrians in the street, a fleeting glimpse of the pretty flower girl (Elisabeth Ebner-Haid) around the corner, the unlocking of his one-man shop to open for business, the power up and paper loading of the photocopiers, the arrangement and operation of the machines for the interminable reproduction of materials. One day, while positioning a document onto the glass, Kager prematurely actuates the photocopier and instead, takes an image of the palm of his hand. The inadvertent reproduction sets off a bizarre series of eerily omniscient, automated photocopied printouts of his daily routine, with each copy seemingly triggering a physical self-reproduction, until the town becomes overrun by his own band of oblivious and baffled doppelgängers. Reminiscent of the infinitely recursive multiplicity of Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon, Copy Shop is a wry and intelligently crafted exposition on being and identity. Expounding on the images of malleable reality that the filmmaker earlier explored in tx-transform and prefiguring the textured, physical manipulation of tactile objects (specifically, paper) that would subsequently be incorporated in Fast Film, Widrich's thoughtful application of mixed media composition (that integrates film, digital media, and paper) creates an incisive framework for the film's integrally philosophical (and artistic) themes of individuality and sameness, originality and duplication, handcrafting and mass production.