Dir. James Whitney, 16mm Color Sound 00:10:00

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LAPIS (1965), also consists entirely of dot patterns, but the mood is radically different. Like a single mandala moving within itself, the particles surge around each other in constant metamorphosis, a serene ecstasy of what Jung calls "individuation." For 10 minutes, a succession of beautiful designs grows incredibly, ever more intricate and astounding; sometimes the black background itself becomes the pattern, when paths are shunned by the moving dots. A voluptuous raga soundtrack by Ravi Shankar perfectly matches the film's flow, and helped to make Lapis one of the most accessible "experimental films" ever made. Occasionally, LAPIS is listed as a computer graphic film, which is quite untrue. The images were all created with handmade cels, and the rotation of more than one of these cels creates some of the movements. John Whitney Sr. had built a pioneer computerized animation set-up -- the prototype for the motion-control systems that later made possible such special effects as the "Star Gate" sequence of 2001. James used that set-up to shoot some of his handmade artwork, since it could ensure accuracy of placement and incremental movement.

[Source: William Moritz article, iotaCenter website]

Other Credits

Music: Ravi Shankar