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.

One Response to “Abstronics: Mary Ellen Bute”

  1. Fell writes:

    Perhaps not exactly similar, but reminded me of this article on “Hearing Type,” by Frank Armstrong, on the AIGA site.

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