Friday, January 28, 2011

Len Lye and the origins of Motion Graphics

"One of my art teachers put me onto trying to find my own art theory. After many morning idea hit me that seemed like a complete revelation. It was to compose motion, just as musicians compose sound. The idea was to lead me far, far away from wanting to excel in...traditional art."

Len Lye (1901 - 1980) Painter, poet, sculptor, kinetic artist can be considered as one of the hundred great innovators of twentieth century art with artists such as Picasso, Duchamp and Brancusi.

He was one of the first artist to make films without a camera in the 1930's by drawing and scratching directly on celluloid and using Technicolor to extract patterns that expressed kinetic energy and feelings.

He once wrote: "There has never been a great film unless it was created in the spirit of the experimental film-maker. All great films contribute something original in manner or treatment".

He was born in Christchurch , New Zealand in 1901. You can see the influence that the art of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand had on his early work. He studied the dance rituals of Polynesia and the Australian Aborigines and became involved with film-making which was an ideal medium to express his ideas about motion.

His first film, Tusalava, (London ,1929), was a semi-abstract animated film influenced not only by modernism, in particular the Futurists that were doing similar experiments but also by the art of Samoa, the Maori and the aboriginal people of Australia where he had spent several years in the early 1920's.

I have not found a copy of the film with the original soundtrack which I believe is a Django Reindhardt tune. In fact I have played the video along with this tune and it is a perfect sync!

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