Numbers, Patterns, and Shapes: Later Abstractions of the 1960s and 1970s

Co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum

Alternative Projections’ previous Spielberg Theater show of Early Abstractions (from the 1940s and 1950s) presented an evolution of filmic imagery, spanning from the heady terrain of long-ago abstracted sculptural shapes to the early images created by animation and optical printer. In this sequel show, at Cinefamily we continue the survey with a peek into the classic ‘60s/’70s era. As in the earlier show, John and James Whitney continue as key figures, but working separately. John Whitney’s 1967 Experiments in Motion Graphics introduces the possibilities of computer animations, the classic films 7362 by Pat O’Neill and Kitsch in Synch by Adam Beckett reveal some of the unbelievable possibilities of optical printer work, Jules Engel’s Train Landscape uses traditional animation, and Michael Scroggins works with pioneering video manipulation!

Lineup of films (subject to change):
- Experiments in Motion Graphics: In this film, Whitney explains the elaborate processes involved in programming and animating his abstract computer-animated designs, particularly those used in the production of his film Permutations. (John Whitney, 1967, 16mm, color, sound, 12 min. Restored print from the Academy Film Archive)
- Matrix III One of John Whitney’s late masterworks, this restrained, powerful computer animation piece is set to Terry Riley’s ‘Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band’, from his album “A Rainbow in Curved Air”. (John Whitney, 1972, 16mm, color, 10 min.)
- 7362: The most highly acclaimed psychedelic abstract film since LAPIS. A combination of innumerable optical techniques, this film hints at the schizophrenic conditions of our 20th Century mechanical-conformist society, using, in part, Rorschach tests in motion and schizoid distortions of the nude female form. (Pat O’Neill, 1967, 16mm, color, sound, 11 min.)
- Kitsch in Synch: This is an abstract animation that seems to get laughs. The soundtrack is why, mainly; it sounds like a large group of demented ducks enthusiastically and persistently seeking oneness with the all, via energetic chanting. BUBUBABU!!! The imagery is elaborate, brightly colored, and every single damned beat in the soundtrack has its own little bump.” — Canyon Cinema. (Adam Beckett, 1975, 16mm, color, sound, 5 min. Restored print from the iotaCenter/Academy Film Archive.)
- Light Traps: A dance metered between the tempo of 60 cycles per second of electrified gas and camera shutter, further wrought by manual, etched harmonics. Las Vegas in a closet.” — Film-Makers’ Cooperative (Louis Hock, 1975, 16mm, color, silent, 8 min.)
- 3/78 (Objects and Transformations): “Sixteen ‘objects’, each consisting of one hundred points of light, perform a series of precisely choreographed rhythmic transformations. Accompanied by the sound of a Shakuhachi (the Japanese bamboo flute), the film is an exercise in the visual perception of motion and mathematical structure.” – Larry Cuba (Larry Cuba, 1978, 16mm, 6 min.)
- Two Space (Larry Cuba, 1979, 16mm, B&W, sound, 8 min.)
- Train Landscape: “A passing landscape as seen through the window of a moving train — after the first minute or so, we forget the narrative as we become wholeheartedly involved with the energy of the optical statement being scrolled out before us.” – Lorettann Devlin Gascard (Jules Engel, 1974, 16mm, B&W, sound, 3 min.)
- Furies (Sara Petty 1977, 16mm & 35mm, color, sound, 3 min
- Recent Li (Michael Scroggins, 1980, NTSC, 5 min.)

Watch an excerpt from John Whitney’s “Matrix III”!
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