abstract silver and primary colored falling rain.

On Screen/Sound: No. 14

Oskar Fischinger / Mary Ellen Bute / Ryoichi Kurokawa
Friday, April 8, 2016 at 7PM

On Screen Sound: No.14
 brings together a series of films from the 1930s and ’40s by early animation pioneers Mary Ellen Bute (1906-1983) and Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) with a digital moving-image work made over 70 years later by Novi_sad and Ryoichi Kurokawa. 

Both Mary Ellen Bute and Oskar Fischinger explored the correspondence of moving images and sounds in their work. Many of Fischinger’s films combine image and music into tightly choreographed works of motion. He continually advanced the technical and aesthetic boundaries of abstract film. Notable techniques include early silent film experiments of thinly sliced wax forms to “ornament sound” films created by photographing objects onto the optical soundtrack of the filmstrip to create “direct” sound from the material.

Between the 1930s and ’50s, Bute’s films were grounded within the tradition of “visual music” through a series of abstract film techniques that she called “Seeing Sound.” An early proponent of electronic art, Bute undertook collaborative research with Leon Theremin, and by 1954 she used a cathode ray oscilloscope to create several abstract films. 

Equally committed to the innovative intersection of the visual and sonic, Novi_sad and Ryoichi Kurokawa project animation into the 21st century with their 2012 collaboration, Sirens, which uses data processing to create pulsing, impossibly detailed images and sounds.

  • Ornament Sound Experiments (1932) Oskar Fischinger
  • Study No. 7 (1931) Oskar Fischinger / Music: Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5
  • Polka Graph (1947) Mary Ellen Bute / Music: Shostakovich’s Polka from The Age of Gold
  • Tarantella (1940) Mary Ellen Bute / Music: Edwin Gerschefski
  • Sirens (2012) Ryoichi Kurokawa / Music: Novi_sad
  • Approximate runtime: 69 minutes

This year-long film series takes a close look at—and listen to—the way filmmakers have employed the sonic dimension of their form to complement, challenge, and reconsider our experience of the moving image.

Presenting cinematic performance, artists’ moving image, and Hollywood feature films, each On Screen/Sound program delves into the relationship between movie sound and image tracks, highlighting some radical examples of the aesthetic power and technical potential of sound in cinema. From musical theater to the music video, experimental shorts to industrially produced features, the series explores the affective and technical relationship between sound and image through the art of Foley, experimental music, found footage, soundtrack imaging, synched, multi-channel, and non-diegetic sound.


Main Image: Film still from Kurokawas Sirens. Courtesy the artist.


Dates + Tickets

Time-Based Visual Art
On Screen/Sound: No. 14
Oskar Fischinger / Mary Ellen Bute / Ryoichi Kurokawa
Friday 8
7:00 PM
April 2016
As part of