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Avant-Garde Cinema (Oct. 7)

Len Lye, Tusalava, 1929: 9 min

For at least half of film, the imagery reminded me of a bacteria. It felt as though the audience was looking through a microscope. As the film progressed and the the images evolved, they began to take on a new shape. The imagines combined and became almost machine-like. It was a very interesting transition from the cellular level to a machine. I also notice that the the machine appeared to have a human-like face. I am not very sure what to take of this aspect or of the transitioning, but it was intriguing to witness.

A Color Box, 1935: 3 min

The constant appearance of squiggled lines reminded me of a television with poor reception. This film possessed an abundant amount of colors and shapes. The combinations of these colors and shapes definitely provided the film with plenty of patterns. It was very randomized, but overall an interesting watch to the audience. 

Trade Tattoo. 1937: 5 min

Initially, I thought that the film would touch based on world trade of shipping of good by boat. The first scenes emphasized the role of workers in the industrial age at the dock. I noticed a random image of an envelope would appear and then disappear. I suppose the film summarized all of the methods that mail is transported. There were brief clips of an aeroplane, a train, ship, etc. I didn’t get anything else out of the film except for mail delivery.

Free Radicals, 1958: 4 min

Free Radicals reminded me of the films we watched last week for class. The words, as well as the various shapes and textures, in each clip had it’s own form or sound or rhythm. I was intrigued with the consistent movement of the words and various shapes. They all appeared to be in synch, although they each possessed their own clip.

Mary Ellen Bute,  Synchromy No. 4: Escape.  1938: 4 min

Mary Ellen bute created a very simple film. I only notice 3 different elements. The first was the blue smoke in the background. The second was the rotating black grate covering the blue smoke. The third and more complex element was the orange triangle. The triangle was the more complex element because it was the only one that was constantly changing. It had more personality because of it’s ability to duplicate itself and even move behind the grate.

Norman McLaren + Mary Ellen Bute,  Spook Sport. 1940: 8 min

The animation and coloring used in this film reminded me of a Halloween cartoon special for children. It is also the first time in this class that I can remember there being a cast of characters used. There was an actual story present. The story was simpler to follow and the audience didn’t really feel as though they had to fit certain pieces together to gain and understanding. I know that the point of avante-garde cinema is to not search for a reason, but I think it is a natural process for humans to partake in.

Norman McLaren, Boogie Doodle.  1940: 4 min

Boogie Doodle also also possessed it’s own rhythm and texture as music does. At first, I was reminded of the paint splotting techniques pyschologists were rumored to have used. There would be random paint colors poured onto the paper. The paper would then be folded in half. When you would open the paper, someone would ask you what you saw. Afterward, I noticed the black figure began to switch from a butterfly, to a heart, and then a set of lips. I wasn’t to sure of what else to observe of this.

Synchromy. 1971: 7 min

I was reminded of an early 80s video game. I don’t know if it was the music or the colors used, but that was the first thing that came to mind. It was a very simple film, but it did keep faithful to it’s title. All of the clips and imagery were synonymous with one another, creating a unique rhythm for the whole film.


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