[SISEA 1990] Artist Statement: John Whitney Sr. — Arabesque

Artist Statement

In 1969–70, Whitney  experimented with motion graphics computer programming at California Institute of Technology. By the 1970s, he had abandoned his analog computer in favor of faster, digital processes. He taught the first computer graphics class at UCLA in 1972. The pinnacle of his digital films is his 1975 work Arabesque, characterized by psychedelic, blooming color-forms.  [source: Wikipedia]

  • John Whitney [1917-1995] (USA) ‘s first works in film were 8 mm movies of a lunar eclipse which he made using a home-made telescope. In 1937-38 he spent a year in Paris, studying twelve-tone composition under René Leibowitz. In 1939 he returned to America and began to collaborate with his brother James on a series of abstract films. Their work, Five Film Exercises (1940–45) was awarded a prize for sound at the First International Experimental Film Competition in Belgium in 1949. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. During the 1950s, Whitney used his mechanical animation techniques to create sequences for television programs and commercials. In 1952, he directed engineering films on guided missile projects. One of his most famous works from this period were the animated title and dream sequences from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo, which he collaborated on with the graphic designer Saul Bass. In 1960, he founded Motion Graphics Incorporated, which used the mechanical analog computer of his own invention to create motion picture and television title sequences and commercials. The following year, he assembled a record of the visual effects he had perfected using his device, titled simply Catalog. In 1966, IBM awarded John Whitney, Sr. its first artist-in-residence position. [source: Wikipedia]