April 26, 2012

Amos Vogel II

Yesterday, we talked about the late Amos Vogel, pioneer of exhibiting alternative cinema in the US, champion of Werner Herzog (and others) and author of the excellent Film as a Subversive Art (1974). The following should tell you just how valuable he was. A note to non-New Zealand readers: in New Zealand, we still consider it a really big deal whenever artistic achievements by locals or ex-pats are recognised abroad. I did exactly that kind of double-take when first stumbling on Vogel's capsule review of Len Lye's Free Radicals (link to the film), which I've reproduced below. Weirdly, it follows straight after his capsule on Fata Morgana ...

Free Radicals
Len Lye, USA, 1957 ?
'A Free Radical is a fundamental particle of matter which contains the energy of all chemical change, very much like a compressed spring before release. The film gives an artistically symbolic portrayal of fundamental energy.' With beautiful, exemplary economy, this long-neglected masterpiece of animation creates a perfectly controlled abstraction that foreshadowed the contemporary 'cosmic' view in its fusion of science and mystery. The nervous, vibrating, non-objective designs, under constant, agitated tension, were directly engraved on blank film -- black leader -- without the intervention of a camera.