(….continue jotting sentences I think might be useful)
– In developing his direct-film idiom, Lye was operating far from the concerns of prior abstract filmmakers, Italian Futurists Arnaldo Ginna and Bruno Corra to create the first signaletic, hand-colored films had worked beneath the sign of the purist and transcendental aspirations of abstract painting.
– Figures as diverse as Fischinger, Walter Ruttmann, and Henri Léopold Sauvage had sought to elevate painting to the pure heights of music; more ambitiously, others such as Richter and Eggeling had tried to develop a universal language of moving abstract forms.
– Having no interest in furthering the objectives of existing art forms, more corporeally immediate over the musical accompaniments – Lye instead returned abstract cinema to the ground-level clamor of modernity, on terms closest to those of the genre’s Futurist inaugurators – less violence and pro-industrial zeal, more lyricism, and a much greater affinity for existing mass cultural forms.
– availed himself of the mass cultural resources of jazz, together with the jittery, morphological madness of early animation—both important if contested sources of progressive popular experience during the interwar period to bring up a strong somatic reaction to his hand-painted films
– direct cinematic idiom – inscribing a dynamics of motion born in the body’s empathic relationship to nature into the image space of cinema – the depicted brutality of Mickey and Donald for a purely sensory violence of color, light, and sound presented with the hope of countering existing cultural forms of somatic alienation
– an aspirational level he shared key aspects of each critic’s outlook, fusing Walter Benjamin’s early early (and never wholly relinquished) technological optimism with Theodor Adorno’s (admittedly faint and carefully qualified) faith in the recovery of certain lost powers of sensuous mimesis – but with no direct investment in Marxist cultural politics – wish to use technology to enhance the sensory lives of his films’ spectators – the efforts of avant-garde artists of the 1920s to use new technology to restructure the human sensorium
– his aspirations were strictly therapeutic, being directed toward the restoration of an innate but socially neglected register of somatic experience, shared the technological optimism of his predecessors, together with their urge to fold the experience of art back into the spaces of everyday life
– His ultimate allegiance was to figures of motion and their impact on the human body, not to cinema or sculpture per se.
“If Lye’s early films are usually seen in the context of abstract cinematic paradigms, it should now be evident that he was not the last exemplar of a transcendentally directed and idealizing tradition of prewar avant-garde film practice. He was instead that period’s most significant exponent of an earthbound and materially inflected form of cinema, one whose rehabilitative bodily concerns would eventually be revived in the postwar period.”