Sight in Sound

The films in this program go by many names—nonobjective or absolute film, abstract or concrete animation, visual music. What connects them is a fundamental turn, where the primary experience of the film isn’t meant to be emotional or intellectual, but rhythmic; the content isn’t meant have a direct referent out in the world, but to resonate with our interiority. The post-sync sound sensory hierarchy, where sound is subservient to the image, is usurped: these films draw upon techniques from painting to music to dance, all collaborating and conflating with one another, melding sound and space towards something greater than the sum of its parts.

The program is also, roughly, a chronological development of different techniques of non-objective filmmaking, beginning with stop-motion animation and light-tables (Bute and Fischinger); proceeding to early computer technology, sculptural light, and lasers (Whiteny, Schwartz, Belson, Lundsten); to the beginning of modern computer animation, highly sophisticated editing, more intense engagements with the animating film itself (Cuba, Engel, Spinello); to a turn to the film strip itself and its own latent energies, whether by applying alternative optical tools or by the application of chemicals (Rekveld, Lefrant). A recapitulation of a very different idea of cinema, where the dance of light, color and rhythm engages across the senses–and goes to work directly on your brain.