Archives for the Month of April, 2006

Abstronics: Mary Ellen Bute

Mary Ellen Bute

Mary Ellen Bute has cropped up at Dataisnature before whilst talking about methods for visually representing sound – but in that instant, only a mention. Although hardly know today, her pioneering, highly experimental films were watched by millions at the time, as they were played as ‘shorts’ preceding the main features film in theatres showing across the States.

After studying Lighting, she mixed with the like of Leo Theremin and Thomas Wilfred, whose Colour Organ, the Clavilux, definately left an impression on her.

Later on, impressed by the mathematical musical systems of Joseph Schillinger, which she incorporated into her methodologies, she began to make abstract-geometric animations that represented music. Undoubtedly she was influenced by the great musical animations of Oskar Fischinger. From 1939 she began to work in colour, employing the used of oscilloscopes, using this technique she made two fairly well know films, Abstronic and Mood Contrasts.

Although very hard to track down, sound responsive computational artists would surely understand, enjoy, and perhaps learn from, the work of Bute, as well as the more widely know Fischinger, of course.


Wall Charts – Rudolf Leukart

BiblioOdyssey is full of excellent scans of eclectic book art and samples of illustrations from Obscure manuscripts. As well as the interesting annotations added to many of these images this blog acts as a great launch pad to some sites full of visual wonder.

Fish Fashion contains examples of plates from the snappily titled ‘Fishes, crayfishes, and crabs, of diverse colours and extraordinary form, that are found around the islands of the Moluccas and on the coasts of the southern lands’ published in 1719 by Louis Renard. The book, containing no less than 460 hand coloured engravings took 30 years to compile.

The 19th century science wall charts post leads us to an inspirational repository of biological illustrations by Rudolf Leukart. His Wandtafeln (wall charts), produced from 1877 to 1892, were used worldwide as teaching aids. They depict an exotic array of parasites and other micro-zoological organisms. Considering the ongoing fascination with the creation of simple life-forms from code and the prevalence of decoration in generative art, these illustrations should be of inspiration to artists working in these fields.

Alvin Lustig, book cover designer and textile artist, was one of the first to introduce modern art into graphic design leaving legacy in contemporary practice and long-term influence book cover design, aside from this claim he produce extremely balanced cutting edge designs for books whose contents are more than often equally rewarding.

Machine Paintings

Anton Perich has lead a varied existence from the mid 60’s as an artist. Up until the 1970’s he was an active member of the Letrist Group, around that time he also ran an international underground film program, showing films by Mekas, Warhol and Heliczer among others and later in the 70’s he contributed, as a photographer, to Warhols INTERVIEW Magazine. However the reason for this post is to give some attention to his Machine Paintings which give credence to his claim of being a pioneer in electric/digital/computer art.

‘In 1977-78 I designed and built an electric painting machine (an early predecessor of the ink jet printer/scanner) and in 1979 I had my first show of electric paintings at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York.’

It appears if the wonderful Hektor has a forgotten grandfather. Jürg Lehni’s Hektor is a robot graph master and one of a kind, not content will the fads of wildestyle he is also adept at reproducing William Morris designs. Check out some of Hektors recent work.

Central Control

Central Control – Pete Gomes

Those familiar with the many wonderful provinces of South London will know of the curiously named Elephant & Castle, a district and road intersection that is home to a strange metal cladded building/structure that sits mysteriously on the main roundabout.

Filmmaker Pete Gomes used the building as a focal point for a film he made called Central Control – of it he says:

‘People suffering from delusional behaviour in South London have referred to the large silver box structure sited on Elephant and Castle roundabout, as being a focal point for them, believing that it works as a control centre delivering them messages.

The film Central Control examines the location, as a man begins to explain how and where he first started to hear the voices in his head, whenever he was near the building. ‘

I was lucky enough to meet Pete at Wilfrieds Crystalpunk workshop last year and he showed Central Control among other films there. You can get the chance to see Central Control this Friday as part of ‘Late at the Tate’, Tate Gallery, London. Recently Pete informed me that he has reworked elements of the film and so, in essence, this is really the premier of the film. A must see.

ps. I’m not going to ruin things by letting you know what the building really houses I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Be sure to check out Pete’s other experimental film works at Mutant Film.