Calculated Movements


Dir. Larry Cuba, 16mm B/W Sound 00:06:00

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CALCULATED MOVEMENTS, by Larry Cuba, is composed of syncopated geometric elements that move through space, re-arranging nested versions of themselves in synchronicity – the work is strongly reminiscent of Oscar Fischinger’s pioneering animations. Like robotic wyldestyle glyphs the elements insinuate some kind of hermetic mathematical ordering or purpose.

Made in 1980, it’s the last computer animation Cuba made, it was realised using a mutant version of Basic, called Zgrass, designed specifically for translational and transformational animation. Cuba used the same language to produce some of the early computer generated sequences in Star Wars. Gene Youngblood, author of the seminal 'Expanded Cinema,' interviewed Cuba for Video And the Arts magazine in 1986. The conversation reveals some interesting thoughts regarding Cuba’s own philosophy on music, art, mathematics and patterns that have great resonance 22 years later.

‘In computer graphics today there’s this great push toward simulating reality, especially natural phenomena. Realistic simulations of plants, for example. Plants are beautiful, so naturally the simulations are beautiful. Plants, mountains, trees, the pattern water makes when it goes over a rock-these are evocative in the same way music is. But I want to know why. I don’t want to simply reproduce the pattern; I want to know what it is about the pattern that evokes that feeling. And what’s the relation between that pattern and its mathematical description?’

[Source: Dataisnature, 2008]