‘Following Elvis Presley's Hands in Jailhouse Rock’ (2011)

16mm film, 3'15"

Pierre Bismuth, ‘Following Elvis Presley’s Hands in Jailhouse Rock’ (2011). Courtesy Jan Mot, Brussel.

For his ongoing series, ‘Following the right hand’, Pierre Bismuth projects a film onto a sheet of plexiglas and painstakingly traces the movements of the actors’ hand with a black marker. The resultant abstract drawings are converted to 16mm film and projected as an animation. In ‘Following Elvis’s Hands in Jailhouse Rock’, Bismuth follows both hands of Elvis Presley as he performs on film his song ‘Jailhouse Rock’, creating a visual trace and abstraction of the physical performance, and drawing attention to the performer’s body as a medium of communication. By focusing on one singular aspect of the film, Bismuth poses questions about how we assimilate information through the multi-sensory experience of film, music and performance, destabilising the habitual means we use to create meaning.


Pierre Bismuth’s work has been exhibited internationally and he is represented by Galerie Jan Mot (Brussels). In 2005 he won the best original screenplay at the 77th Academy Awards along with Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman for the movie ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. He lives and works in New York and Brussels.