STK-ID 76719

Dear Mr. Manning: Thank you for your June 9th letter, and in particular for the film which arrived safe, sound and dutiless. I was much taken by the blocpix photos, the like of which I hadn't seen before. The Lincoln head was new to me, and in fact I didn't recognize the image till you referred to it in the letter. I thought your 8 x 10 color portrait quite stunning. I find it interesting because it is a form of op art when seen very close, and of figurative art, when viewed at a distance. It immediately made me wish to zoom slowly from very close to very far as a means of revealing its two-sided nature. The other color 8 x 10 I found most satisfying; in my opinion it is definitely superior as a work of art to many so-called painted works of op art. I would be curious in seeing more. As for Mosaic, I was most curious and intrigued by what you have done to it. The most exciting moments for me were the human figure at start and finish, and what happened to it. It seemed that the more they were at rest, the more abstract they became, to the point of being devoid of all human association, while the more they were in motion, the more easily I read them as figurative. It seemed that the motion was providing a necessary figurative clue; but knowing the original material in advance, I cannot be an objective viex^er on this count. Interplay between the abstract and non-abstract possibilities would seem to be a fertile way of using blocpix filmically. I was very interested in the body of your Mosaic tests, and am delighted that I may keep this print, largely because I will now have four examples of identical motion, in different graphic statement. (Vertical lines. Horizontal lines, Mosaic and Cinebloc Mosaic). Having grown up believing that in cinema by far the most dominating factor is motion, I am always anxious to get hold of examples of precisely similar movement couched, costumed, or characterized differently, in order to see what degree the other factors modify, add, subtract, distract or negate the motion. In your example it certainly does the two former. After screening your test, I thought, well, my original Mosaic now seems to have been played by a solo musical instrument, while your new version has been performed by a full orchestra. With the same visual 'score', one rendition was thin, delicate and whispery, and the other was rich, bold and strong. No doubt, with any given material, you are able to orchestrate for anything in between, or even beyond, such as a visual chambergroup, or ten full brass bands, yes? Without knowing the technical intricacies of your process, it seems to me you have invented a very useful tool for a certain type of creative artist (such as Whitney); who would surely take an immediate delight in the equipment and processes used, and who would evolve his creative form from its limitations and possibilities. I would tend to agree with you that a prolonged diet cineblocpix would be disturbing to the retina, and also, I think, to the mind. But for interludes and short films it could be a delight. Unless brashly commercialized it is certainly m.uch more than a gimmick. I myself might well take an interest in it, were it not for the fact that presently I am involved in an hour-long didactic film on motion and animation,which will take me at least another year to finish; then I am due to retire; tho' I may in fact carry on in order to complete an earlier half-finished film. But that will definitely be my last film. So, unfortunately, circumstances make it impossible for me to respond affirmatively to your tempting suggestion. Norman McLaren


Excerpt from
Norman McLaren's Archives and Personal Files
McLaren Collection