Seeing Sound: Mary Ellen Bute Retrospective

Presented in association with Center for Visual Music

“A pioneer of visual music and electronic art, Mary Ellen Bute produced over a dozen short abstract animations between the 1930s to the 1950s. Set to classical music by the likes of Bach, Saint-Saens or Shostakovich, and filled with colorful forms, elegant design and sprightly, dance-like-rhythms, Bute’s filmmaking is at once formally rigorous and energetically high-spirited, like a marriage of high modernism and Merrie Melodies.” –Ed Halter

“We submerged tiny mirrors in tubes of oil, connected [them] to an oscillator, and drew where these points of light were flying. The effect was thrilling for us—it was so pure. But it wasn’t enough. Finally we got a Bolex camera and started… to make my first film, Rhythm in Light.” –Mary Ellen Bute

Bute made a series of Visual Music films which she called “Seeing Sound.” This program features her short abstract films, including some rarely-seen films on 16mm!

Program runs approximately 70 min.

Prints courtesy Cecile Starr Collection at Center for Visual Music. Image courtesy Center for Visual Music.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!