psychedelic animation, Psychedelic Cinema

Len Lye “Tusalava” 1929

One of my very favorite animations, Tusalava, was created by New Zealand artist and animation pioneer Len Lye. Originally silent, this version has been re-scored by Allessandro di Paola. Works well silent or with music, but stay with it. The ten minute slow-moving meditation on abstract almost cellular forms is quite moving.

“Unfolding in extreme slow motion, Tusalava depicts the emergence of two opposing figures from a striated matrix of dot-like configurations, most likely inspired by Australian Aboriginal art. Later in life, Lye described one of the figures, which is vaguely humanoid, as a “totem of individuality” and the other, which is wormlike, as a “witchetty grub,” an important Aboriginal food source he had never seen but was the subject of a dance he admired featuring sinuous writhing movements akin to those he made use of in his film. Throughout Tusalava’s ten- minute duration, the witchetty grub invades its totemic counterpart with a pair of tentacular protrusions, struggling to absorb it in its entirety before being thrust aside by the totem’s last-gasp explosive death throes.” Luke Smythe, Len Lye: the Vital Body of Cinema,OCTOBER 144, Spring 2013, pp. 73–91. © 2013 October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. retrieved from, January 26th, 2015


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