Len Lye 1901-1980
Particles in Space (1980)
Lye completed his last great film a few months before his death at the age of 78. The film returned to the black-and-white techniques of Free Radicals. Lye created what he called “vibrant little images” or “zig-zags” with a sense of “zizz”. The clusters of small scratches gave the film a unique texture – the images looked rough but were in fact extremely subtle. The title Particles in Space referred to flashes of energy of the kind sometimes seen by astronauts in space. The soundtrack combined “Jumping Dance Drums” from the Bahamas with drum music by the Yoruba of Nigeria and the sounds of Lye’s metal kinetic sculptures. The opening titles demonstrated Lye’s mastery of the scratching of letters and words on film, a method imitated by other film-makers such as Stan Brakhage.