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Masters of International Animation

September 27 (Thursday) 7 pm

A Len Lye Sampler

A pioneer in the radical “direct film” technique—a cameraless form that employs scratching, stenciling, or drawing directly onto the celluloid—New Zealand–born Len Lye saw in film the ideal medium for his lifelong obsession to express “art in motion.” Lye’s breakthrough as an artist came in the mid-1930s when he worked for John Grierson’s G.P.O. (General Post Office) Film Unit in England with short films like Colour Box (1935) and Rainbow Dance (1936). Attempting to “compose motion, just as musicians compose sound,” Lye’s experimental films explore a variety of techniques, including live-action shooting, puppet animation, and the rayogram method, in which everything from strips of film to patterned fabric are transferred directly to the strip to create imagery. Although Lye experimented with Technicolor, a new medium at the time, his sense of movement was not purely a matter of visual pattern but rather kinesthetic and physical. His film Free Radicals (1958), made after his move to the United States, came closest to his idea of “pure figures in motion.”

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700