In this extraordinary short animation, Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren painted colours, shapes, and transformations directly on to their filmstrip. The result is a vivid interpretation, in fluid lines and colour, of jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio.
As a teenager, McLaren became interested in Colour-Music, an art form in which moving patterns of coloured lights were projected. When he was at art school, McLaren and fellow student Stuart McAllister tried to create colour-music by painting abstractions directly onto 35 mm movie film. McAllister would later become a great editor of documentary films. McLaren was delighted with the experience but knew the results were primitive. Then, in London in 1936, he saw Len Lye’s revolutionary hand-painted-on-film Colour Box. It did not influence McLaren but it gave him the confidence to continue drawing directly on film. He had to wait ten years, however, before he would have access to a three-colour film printing stock, which would allow him to copy a multi-hued hand-painted original. And what an original it is! For me, it is hard to imagine a more satisfying jazz film – in this case, a marriage of hand-painted improvisations to the piano improvisations of a young Oscar Peterson.Donald McWilliams
From the playlist: Norman McLaren: Hands-on Animation