Chris Parks

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Chris Parks created effects sequences for The Fountain and The Tree of Life. His showreel can be viewed here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Len Lye
Matrix III by John Whitney
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney
Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood

Len Lye

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Rainbow Dance (1936).

Fortunate Londoners can see a BFI screening of early film shorts by Len Lye (1901–1980) this Friday at the NFT. (Details here.) Lye is one of the pioneers of abstract cinema and his work still astounds for its inventiveness and playful interaction between synchronised image and music. Many of his works were created by painting directly onto the film strip, a technique later pursued by animators like Norman McLaren. Free Radicals has long been a favourite, created with nothing more than a drum track and scratches on black-and-white film; five minutes of hypnotic genius. The BFI programme list below features links to YouTube versions. Some are poor quality but worth watching all the same:

This slot is dedicated to Len Lye, a towering figure in experimental film. The films are: Tusalava (1929, 9min, silent); Peanut Vendor (1933, 2min); Kaleidoscope (1935, 4min); A Colour Box (1935, 3min); The Birth of a Robot (1936, 6min); Rainbow Dance (1936, 4min); Colour Flight (1937, 4min); Swinging the Lambeth Walk (1940, 4min); Rhythm (1957, 1min); Free Radicals (1958, 5min); Particles in Space (1966, 4min); Cameramen at War (1944, 14min); Everyday (dir Hans Richter, 1929, 17min). Approx 77min total.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Matrix III by John Whitney
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney
Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood

Weekend links 35

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Marian Bantjes designs the cover of the latest Creative Review and there’s a feature about her work inside.

• “…the question: ‘was Shakespeare gay?’ strikes me as so daft as to be barely worth answering. Of course he was. Arguably he was bisexual, of sorts, but his heart was never on his straight side.” Don Paterson throws the cat among the pigeons in an examination of the Shakespeare’s sonnets. Related (sort of): Shakespeare and Company: The bookshop that thinks it’s a hotel. Also related: Jeanette Winterson revisits Shakespeare and Company.

100 orbs of light float in the Schuylkill River. Also in Philadelphia: Animators Amok in a Curiosity Cabinet: the Brothers Quay are making a film in the Mütter Museum. Can’t wait to see it.

• More Alan Moore: Fossil Angels, a lengthy essay about magic and the occult, was written in 2002 but hasn’t been given a public airing until now.

Alberto Manguel is always worth reading:

As Borges was well aware even then, the history of literature is the history of this paradox. On the one hand, the deeply rooted intuition writers have that the world exists, in Mallarmé’s much-abused phrase, to result in a beautiful book (or, as Borges would have it, even a mediocre book), and, on the other hand, to know that the muse governing the enterprise is, as Mallarmé called her, the Muse of Impotence (or, to use a freer translation, the Muse of Impossibility). Mallarmé added later that all who have ever written anything, even those we call geniuses, have attempted this ultimate Book, the Book with a capital B. And all have failed.

• Here Comes Everybody: Wake In Progress is a self-described “foolhardy attempt to illustrate Finnegans Wake”. Easier to illustrate than make a film of the book, I’d have thought, and Mary Ellen Bute already attempted the latter.

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Psychic Explosion: Adolf Hoffmeister’s illustrations for a 1967 edition of Lautréamont’s Poesies at A Journey Round My Skull.

Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes can be seen at Turner Falls, Massachusetts, during November.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins has a book and retrospective exhibition of his art due next year.

• A sneak peek into The Steampunk Bible to which I’m a contributor. And also here.

• “Human or other; depends who comes”: the Ballardian films of Paul Williams.

Transmission (1979) by Joy Division; Transmission (1995) by Low; Monkey (2010) by Robert Plant.

Peyote Queen by Storm de Hirsch

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Ubuweb turns up another gem of abstract cinema with this 1965 work by Storm de Hirsch. The only film of hers I’d seen prior to this was Third Eye Butterfly (1968), screened at the 2005 Summer of Love psychedelia exhibition. Both these shorts share the same spilt-screen effect but Peyote Queen cuts kaleidoscopic views of the woman in question with brightly-coloured animated glyphs and shapes created by drawing directly onto the film emulsion. This is an old technique which goes back at least as far as Len Lye’s pioneering films of the 1930s. Peyote Queen‘s drum soundtrack and white dots flickering on black are very reminiscent of Lye’s brilliantly minimal Free Radicals (1958) which was also made by scratching the film.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957

Matrix III by John Whitney

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Another great piece of abstract cinema by John Whitney. The soundtrack is an extract from Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band by Terry Riley.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney
Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood