Lapis

Lapis: James Whitney (1966)

One of James Whitney’s several cinematic masterworks, Lapis develops a series of impossibly dense mandala patterns in increasing intensity, set to a Ravi Shankar track. Whitney spent several years developing the imagery for the film, using his brother John’s homemade and hand-me-down motion control camera rig to realize it. Although James never aligned his creative interests with contemporary psychedelia, his work nevertheless sought to create an audio-visual catalyst for a deep and spiritual contemplation that was not too far removed.Mark Toscano

I’ve carried the memory of this short film for years. Now, having just found it again, it’s still pretty impressive but not quite so overwhelming as the first time. I was an 18 year old art student watching it on a big screen in a small lecture theatre, with the volume turned up and completely immersed in its kaleidoscopic intensity, I’d never seen anything like it before. The film was made six years earlier, and what I love most about it now is its handmade lo-fi pre-digital devoted dedication to beauty.

Frames of reference
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