Rainbow Dance (1936)

After A Colour Box, Len Lye made another abstract advertisement, Rainbow Dance, for the Post Office Savings Bank with this surreal, innovative film.
Due to the pressures of working within a documentary environment, Lye incorporate more concrete images in this and in the next films but the commercial messages continue to be always subsidiary to Lye's experiments with music, colour and movement and are added at the conclusion as an apparent after-thought.
Rainbow Dance employs shot footage and overlays it with a number of abstract colour effects.
The main image is a silhouetted figure in the film, enacted by dancer Rupert Doone. Light transformed the surrounding mise-en-scène into a colourful, shifting landscape, aided by the use of deregistration effects and stencil patterns to produce the colour echoes that appear throughout the film.

In Rainbow Dance, Lye experimented with the new colour separation processes such as Technicolor: he used a black and white footage coloured by manipulating the three red, green and blue matrices of the Gasparcolor 3-colour separation system, as had Oskar Fischinger in his 1930 advertising film, Circles. After this process, the animated film looked like a cubist painting or a collage by Matisse. Lye manipulated the celluloid through different levels of exposure. When shooting the original footage, he then used black and white sets, which allowed him to adjust the colours later in a controlled way.
Abstract and semi-abstract shapes surrounding the figure, constantly moving and changing, create a a mass of complex and jumbled movements.
The advanced effects, visual motifs and music that Lye used on this short film can be seen as a precursor to today's music videos and as the first experiment towards a new kind of cinematic reality.
You can buy the books Len Lye and Len Lye and the problem of popular films and the vhs Rhythms.

No comments: