The dance of the hand: Len Lye’s direct films | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 8 Number 1
  • ISSN: 2042-7875
  • E-ISSN: 2042-7883

Abstract

Len Lye’s animation has a special relationship with physical materials and the body because of the ways he drew and scratched his images directly onto film. This article considers what is unusual about his aesthetic, with its emphasis on kinaesthetic styles of viewing and on ‘physical empathy’. Tracking Lye’s film work from the 1930s through the 1950s, it draws connections with the body-oriented aspects of abstract expressionist art. It also relates the films to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ‘embodied’ approach to phenomenology. Today Lye’s films need to be digitized, and that transfer raises interesting questions about the differences between analogue and digital aesthetics. What happens when his films move from the ‘black box’ of the cinema to the ‘white cube’ of the gallery or museum where they are digitally presented? The article also considers Lye’s kinetic sculpture as another body-oriented form of animation, in which the motor replaces the projector. His sculpture again raises questions about mixing the analogue with the digital.

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2020-12-01
2024-02-29
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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): analogue; digital; hand drawn; kinetic sculpture; Len Lye; proprioception
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