Len Lye: The Vital Body of Camera (Part II)

(….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.”


Len Lye: The Vital Body of Camera (Part I)

– motives combined resources of abstraction, jazz, and animation in his hand-painted films – to use cinema as a device for enlivening viewers

– when war broke out, Lye then brought his kinesthetic sensibilities to the battlefield, demonstrating the merits of a refined somatic consciousness in the bloody confrontation with Fascism.

– sought to use dynamic artworks to awaken sensations of motion within their onlookers

– motion-based aesthetic originated in the cities and countryside of his native New Zealand, far from the centers of the European and North American art worlds where it would later be implemented.

– while developing his senses in the context of the “sense games” he invented as a child, Lye grew increasingly receptive to sensations of sound, color, and above all motion – refined his sense of individuality

I . . . eventually came to look at the way things moved mainly to try to feel movement, and only feel it. This is what dancers do; but instead, I wanted to put the feeling of a figure of motion outside of myself to see what I’d got. I came to realize that this feeling had to come out of myself, not out of streams, swaying grasses, soaring birds; so, instead of sketching lines and accents described by things in motion, I now tried to tie and plait their particular motion characteristics into my sinews—to attach an inner kind of echo of them to my bones. . . . It might seem inane to anyone else, but the way I practiced it, I could levitate with the curling smoke, scud with the wind-blown leaf, sashay with the reflections of masts on water, shimmy with the flapping flag, glide with the snake.


– Tusalava: mooted two key premises of his later cinematic efforts: his conception of the film image as a locus for the transfer of energy between bodies and his construal of cinematic movement as a brand of “vicarious” dance.

– handpainted film idiom – “direct” filmmaking – working without the expense of a film crew, camera, or lighting equipment by painting onto and scratching into clear strips of unwanted celluloid

– the film does not show its commercial function, remaining abstract until its final thirty seconds – make little impression on viewers between the film’s prevailing onslaught of sound and color – dance-like exchange of energy between bodies

– transformed the movie going experience into a source of his personal cultural tendencies of his days.

– transformed the film image into a somatic impulses whose energies were capable outward into real space – would allowing onlookers  to recover a deeper, more enlivening sense of their individual kinesthetic capabilities within the spaces of Depression-era cinema.

Free Radical: The Films of Len Lye

Compilation of Len Lye’s works by Roger Horrocks.

‘Every film [I made], I tried to interest myself in it by doing something not previously done in film technique’

– Len Lye

– expand his direct techniques from painting the images of his films to scratching, stenciling and photogramming them

– a pioneer of colour film in the 1930s, taking black and white footage and transforming it into brilliantly coloured Cubist textures, seeking to create a new language of editing

– the beginnings of life on earth. Evolution leads to conflict, and two species struggle for supremacy
– influenced by Australian Aboriginal art and myths of the Dreamtime
– uses Jack Ellitt’s percussive piano score

– first direct film. combined popular Cuban dance music with hand-painted abstract designs
– color was still a novelty, Lye’s direct painting on celluloid created exceptionally vibrant effects

– animated stencilled cigarette shapes experimented with cutting out some of the shapes so that the light of the projector hit the screen directly
– developed a number of other stencils – ‘a yin-yang, a diamond shape, a wheel, a star’ – to complement his handpainted images
– music by Don Baretto and his Cuban Orchestra

– single-frame animation of puppets
– turned to Gasparcolor after using Dufaycolor for his previous two films
– color film was still a complex process (involving the combination of three separate images), but Lye was able to create such a vivid storm scene that reviewers hailed it as ‘proof that the color film has entered a new stage’
– music: Holst’s The Planets

– exploited Gasparcolor system in an unprecedented way – filmed dancer in black and white, then colored the footage during the development and printing of the film – added painted and stenciled development and printing of the film
– Lye disliked naturalism and relished mixing live action with cartoon symbols or juxtaposing positive and negative images

– animated words and patterns combined with the live-action footage – to create images as complex and multi-layered as a Cubist painting
– the film sought (in Lye’s words) to convey ‘a romanticism about the work of the everyday in all walks of life
– Music by the Lecuona Band, another Cuban group

N. OR N.W. (1937)
– an experiment in subverting the orthodox language of film editing (which he described contemptuously as ‘the Griffith technique’).

– Time Magazine (12 December 1938) describe Lye as England’s alternative to Walt Disney, a David-and-Goliath comparison – Disney’s films were ‘the product of a big corporation’ whereas Lye was a one-man band who ‘paints or stencils his designs by hand.’

– The Lambeth Walk – a popular dance of the period with a characteristic hand gesture (the Yiddish ‘Oi!’)
– Lye edited together a number of ‘swing’ versions of the music and combined them with a particularly diverse range of direct film images, scratched as well as painted

– the film alerted the public to the risk that German sympathizers might overhear information about the war effort in everyday conversation
– wartime films did not have to be gloomy – described as ‘a fantastic but effective blending of colour and sound to draw audience interest.’

COLOR CRY (1952-3)
– based on a development of the ‘rayogram’ or ‘shadow cast’ process, using fabrics as stencils
– music by Sonny Terry, he imagined it to be the anguished cry of a runaway slave

TAL FARLOW (1950s)
– created a series of scratched images in the 1950s – more regular or geometric than his usual style
– accompany ‘Rock ‘n’ Rye,’ track by jazz guitarist Tal Farlow

RHYTHM (1957)
– Used rapid editing to speed up the assembly of a car
– music: African drum music
– P. Adams Sitney wrote: ‘Although his reputation has been sustained by the invention of direct painting on film, Lye deserves equal credit as one of the great masters of montage.’
– Jonas Mekas said to Peter Kubelka: ‘Have you seen Len Lye’s 50-second automobile commercial? Nothing happens there…except that it’s filled with some kind of secret action of cinema.’

– reduced the medium to its most basic elements – scratching designs on black film using a variety of scribers
– this already very concentrated film by dropping a minute of footage

– returned to the black-and-white techniques of Free Radicals and his ‘white ziggle-zag-splutter scratches in quite doodling fashion’
– explored some vigorous forms of Abstract Expressionism
– soundtrack: ‘Jumping Dance Drums’ from the Bahamas, with drum music by the Yoruba of Nigeria, and the sounds of Lye’s metal kinetic sculptures

Independent Digital Project – Transmedia Storytelling

For our independent digital project, I am going to create a transmedia storytelling which is against suicidal issues. I hope that this can create an awareness in this issue and decrease the rate of it….

Transmedia storytelling is a way of telling story through multiple platforms, with user engagement. We tell stories to entertain, to persuade and to explain, and there is no single media satisfies our curiosity or our lifestyle which is why people tell stories across different media.

Some tips about transmedia storytelling that I think it is important:

Rather than repeating the information on different platforms, use different parts of a story to match a platform’s strength and maximize user experience

Because audience engagement is central to this form of storytelling, make sure whichever platform you’re using gets readers to interact in a very simple way.

“The story comes first, always”
“By telling interconnected stories we can embrace the nuance and complexity that exists in any story world. Through multiple forms we can engage the different parts of our story-loving brains. By distributing them across varying channels we can target the audiences that really matter.”

Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care. There are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.

Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.
For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
The highest suicide rate is among men over 85 years old: 65 per 100,000 persons.
1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.
The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.
An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes.
Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.

The Six Reasons People Attempt Suicide:

  1. They’re depressed
  2. They’re psychotic
  3. They’re impulsive
  4. They’re crying out for help
  5. They have a philosophical desire to die
  6. They’ve made a mistake






Music, Rhythm, Tempo Research – Part #TWO

Finally get to finish focusing and absorbing the music rhythm and tempo section in Jon Krasner’s Motion Graphic Design: Applied History and Aesthetics under Chapter 12: Motion Graphic Sequencing. Jotting down the words….


In music, tempo is the speed of the beat in each bar.
In motion graphic, tempo means the speed of the events on the time to arrange and maintain the numbers of cuts and transitions of the composition.

Slow tempo – peaceful and relaxed pace
Fast tempo – active and energetic
Moderate tempo – positive, forward progress, may apply to wide range of styles.

If you are unsure of the subjective feel that you want for your composition’s pace, try listening to different genres of music until you find one that has a prevailing tempo that expresses the mood of your concept.

Transition speed can affect the composition’s overall flow.
Fast transition – energetic
Slow transition – deliberate and dignified feel

Rhythm – repetition of beats which is directly related to the pace of the composition. Rhythm editing has been applied in both narrative and non-narrative film and motion graphic.

Avant-garde film makers during the twentieth century such had approach these kind of editing to achieve rhythmic patterns which can cover narrative.

‘October’ (1927) by Sergei Eisenstein

Classical Hollywood cinema explored rhythmic in montages and sound films such as musical comedy, dance sequences and dramas.
1960s – fast cutting to the beat of a tune was used in TV commercials
1980s – used in music videos using stereotyped images – cut to match the rhythm

Experimental film maker Martin Arnold had made extreme rhythmic editing. Here are two of his works…

Both of these works were reproduced from existing movie films by repeating the frames, movements and sounds to create the tempo and rhythm, which makes me feel… pretty disturbing and uncomfortable….

In music, rhythm describes how sound of varying length and accentuation are grouped into patterns called measures.The timing of notes in each measure is independent of the tempo that governs the composition’s pace. If you tap your foot faster or slower to the beat of a tune, the rhythm does not change, only it’s tempo.

Music, dance, any other time based artistic expression has continuous rhythm which is always steady and constant. Many film and motion artists are inspired by avant-garde cinema and Eisenstein’s montage experiments to achieve uniform rhythmic structures. Timing can establish steady and continuous rhythm.

Timing – (in music) the number of beats in each bar – determine the underlying visual rhythm in music editing
Repeating a verse in mind or listen to a metronome’s beat to create a sense of timing if sound is not available.

Framing duration can also create a sense of rhythm tempo.
The duration of a segment remain on screen can control the amount of time viewers are allowed to see and interpret the content.
It can also achieve a steady and consistent rhythm when all segments has the same duration with same number of cuts and transitions.

Man Ray’s avant-garde film ‘Emak Bakia’ (1926)

Repetition of images and action such as cutting or transiting between segments that is similar can create uniform rhythm by maintaining a sense of pace in a composition.

1920s – Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy – ‘Ballet Mécanique (1924)’ – rhythmic structure is created from juxtaposed dull objects such as spinning bottles, faces, hats, and other object that are keep repeated.

Viking Eggeling’s ‘Symphonie Diagonale‘(1924) also has a steady mechanical tempo which the rhythm is articulated by the speed which the geometric elements appear and disappear in the frame along with the duration remain on the screen.

In musical arrangement, individual notes and durational sonic patterns of notes that repeat at regular intervals can contribute to a composition’s rhythmic flow to create unity.
In classical music, certain themes may be duplicated to give the piece a unique personality that differs from other arrangements. Without repetition, a musical composition can stray away aimlessly in too many directions, lacking a focus.

Hans Ritcher’s works are emphasizing on image and action by combining natural improvisation.
In ‘Ghost Before Breakfast‘(1927), a strong rhythm is maintained in a relative speed that elements move from shot to shot such as the equal number of characters or objects remain constant to preserve the rhythm.

Rhythm can have variable rhythm in order to match the mood of the composition – allow new material to be introduced into repetition and break predictability.

Emphasis can also break predictability as it is an interruption in the fundamental patterns of events.
Music – providing accent to make certain notes stand out
Character design – exaggerate movement
Motion design – visual hierarchy

Varying event frequency and tempo – showing the same thing repeatedly but in a different way – can block viewer’s normal expectation about the narrative – focus on the actual story

Changing tempo introduce rhythmic posibilities
Slow tempo – interrupt composition’s flow
Fast motion – accelerate you forward in time

Varying the frame duration can control the rhythmic succession of images, actions and events by manipulate their on screen duration and introduce variety into composition’s rhythm structure.
Combining different frame length of sequences can produce an irregular rhythm.

Pause is an addition to incorporate inserts and cutaways – to give viewers time to rest between events/emphasize a point/create expectations or tensions/help regulate viewer’s perception of the flow of time.

Week #TWO


QR Code: “Quick Response Code”. Originally used in car manufacturing process.

The first I get to know about QR codes was from Japanese products as I always get involved in Japanese culture. Here is the demographic from the site What Japan Thinks about QR Code usage in Japan.

QR code is now almost everywhere (…almost) which sometimes gone too far, just like those in http://wtfqrcodes.com.
Therefore, this time is for us to think of some creative ways to use the QR codes.

To create a location based narrative around the Redmonds Building, minimum five QR Codes which link to either websites, videos, images, music, plain text… any web services.

This time our tutors separated us into different groups. My group members- Terance and Swee Ping.
We did an adventure game which is to collect the weapons and to defeat the “Demon King”. It is quite fun and interesting especially looking at our tutors finding where did we put the QR codes at as we gave some interesting names to some areas in the building.



Many YouTube videos nowadays uses the annotation editor provided to create interactivity with the audience.

The very first interactive YouTube video I saw back then was “NSFW. A hunter shoots a bear!”, a Tipp-Ex campaign.

To create an interactive YouTube video.
We were grouped into a different group again. This time I’m with JimBob, Edward, and Mei.
Our interactive YouTube video is to make the characters(students) in the video fall asleep due to boredom and wake them up again.

Had fun during the shooting of the video 🙂

Week #ONE


Sound-writing, field-recording, any recorded sound of an event.

Explored “phonography” in a small group, developed a storytelling audio narrative using recorded sound and music effects from the web.

Previously during our Advanced Diploma we had did something like this before, a simple soundscape project.

We’re in a group of four – Kevin, Ginny Queenie, and me. The first thing I can think of is running sound or the sound walking on stairs. Finally we did a story about a person being chased by few men and in the end he manage to escape from them.

It was quite tiring during the recording when we tried to record the running sound. We did not play with the left and right stereo effect, maybe if we did, it might sound better…?

But still, it’s a fun experience 🙂

The final output: The Escape



Triptych – a set of three panels of works. Back then more on (Christian) artworks, an earlier form of screen narrative.
Lev Manovich: “Spatial or window montage”

Most of the earlier films used split-screen for phone call scenes. Back when I was still in my primary school days, the most memorable split screen video was the split-screen phone call in Lizzie McGuire.


These split-screen appeared almost every episode of the sitcom, which I think it was very interesting back then.

Split-screens are used frequently to view different space or events that happen on the same time. Some used just for visual purpose, like this

The most recent split screen video I saw on the television back in Malaysia was this simple advertisement of the mobile app, LINE.

To develop our own triptych which can be loop.

Small group members for this task – Kevin, Ginny and me.
During our discussion, we came up with different ideas and finally chose one, which most of us Malaysians have experienced in Malaysia – waiting for elevator. No matter we are in our own apartment or shopping mall while waiting for the elevator to arrive, we will be frustrated due to the full capacity inside the lift even after we have stood there waited for some time.

IMG_6535 IMG_6536

We did the shooting for around an hour and I really enjoyed it! But due to our storyboard, we have to keep stopping the elevator from closing the door and this made the elevator buzzer kept buzzing….

Here is our final output



We were introduced to a new software by our tutor, which is Isadora, a software which is initially created for performance artist, a software to develop some new media work, a software to create interactive work.

Our tutor showed us a very interesting and meaningful campaign about littering

Play with “Isadora”, think of an idea and explore it’s possibilities of interactivity!

My team had thought of an idea related to natural environment which requires motion capture. With the help of our tutor, we manage to see how Isadora can actually work. This software seems interesting, but it is still quite complicated to use and it also has some limits just like the problem we have met, the webcam motion sensor together with the audio.

Music, Rhythm, Tempo Research – Part#ONE

I had finally chosen the research topic that I am interested in – MUSIC, RHYTHM, and TEMPO in Motion Graphics.

There are not much source in the library which is related to Music AND Motion Graphic, so I had borrow some books which is mainly about music.


The books that I have borrowed are not really related to motion graphic, but there are some quotes that may apply into motion graphic (or any art forms) in ‘The Music of Painting’ by Peter Vergo.

I believe I can find something between SIGHT and HEARING and I can produce a fugue in colours, as Bach has done in music.- – František Kupka (The New York Times, 1913)

An artist who sees that the imitation of natural appearances, no matter how artistic, is not for him – the kind of creative artist who wants to, and has to, express his own inner world – sees with envy how naturally and easily such goals can be attained in music, the least material of the arts today.
– Wassily Kandinsky (On the Spiritual in Art, 1912)

Since the 20th century or even way before then, artists had already thought about art and music can be linked together. But back then it is just still paintings, no moving images or films.

French artist, Paul Gauguin, had mentioned that our ear is a sense of inferior to the eye, and music is the least powerful and the most incomplete of the arts.

Like music, it (painting) acts on the soul through the intermediary of the senses: harmonious in sound. But in painting on can achieve a unity that is impossible in music….
One’s hearing can only grasp one sound at at time, whereas sight takes in everything and simultaneously simplifies it at will. Music require an effort of memory for the appreciation of the whole.

Even though Gauguin said things like these, he still said that music makes people feel like you are ‘at liberty to dream’ while listening to it. According to August Endell, different types of lines have a particular tempo in music – thick or thin, long or short, may represent quick or slow tempo.

Italian artists, Bruno Corra (1892-1976) and Arnold Ginna (1890-1982) had explored the relationship between visual and music. This is the abstract work by Bruno Corra, ‘Chromatic Music’ which is playing with colour and music.

To begin with, the whole screen in green, then in the centre a small red six-pointed star appears. This rotates on itself, the points vibrating like tentacles and enlarges, enlarges until it fills the whole screen. The entire screen is red, then unexpectedly a nervous rash of green spots breaks out all over it. These gro until they absorb all the red and the entire canvas is green.