'The Body Electric'
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, United Kingdom
24 November 2010 – 13 February 2010
This work is by the innovative film maker Len Lye who is being shown at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK. Entitled, Rainbow Dance, it is set to a funky African soundtrack (click above). It dates from 1936 and was made for the GPO Unit, he really was ahead of his time, here is the press release....
|Len Lye, Still from Rainbow Dance, 1936|
During the 1930s, Lye’s main interest lay in film-making and he drifted into London’s film industry. Commissioned by the visionary film unit of the General Post Office, he produced a number of commercials that are now seen as seminal in the history of moving imagery. These camera-less works used Lye’s own distinct style and technique of ‘direct’ film-making, where colour was painted directly onto the celluloid film. Several of these films will be exhibited at Ikon, including Rainbow Dance (1936) with its Gasparcolour and stencil effects, and the later, more avant-garde films Colour Cry (1958) and Free Radicals (1958). Around the 1950s, having moved to New York and discouraged by a lack of positive critical reaction to his films, Lye began making kinetic sculpture (which he referred to as ‘tangible motion sculptures’ or ‘Tangibles’).
|Len Lye, with 'Tangible sculpture' - 'Fountain of Peace'|
high shiny strip of cold rolled steel with a steel rod and cork ball at the top. Its base, fixed into a clamp, is vibrated to make the whole quiver whilst making sounds like a knife swishing through air, before a climax of dramatic S-shapes cause the ball to rebound in a kind of frenzy. The Fountains (1963-76) were quieter, meant to evoke the “spray in a fountain” by the rotation of hundreds of vertical steel rods up to 2m tall clasped together at the base, bending under their own weight.