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Raw Vision (U*)

Splash, Scratch, Dunk! Films Made by Hand

handmade film with lots of green and red shapes

Dive into a world of colour with this programme of films made by scratching into, painting on, or sticking things to the surface of the filmstrip.

These films are made entirely without recourse to photography: the abstract imagery on show is derived exclusively from the artists’ interventions on the surface of the celluloid itself.

We begin and end with Len Lye, a pioneer of handmade cinema, and a touchstone for the handmade moving image-artists who followed. Harry Smith mined his own subjectivity, hoping to reveal hidden truths and introduce a new way of seeing and Aldo Tambellini’s exploration of blackness was inspired by the contemporary historical context of the burgeoning counterculture, civil rights protests and the space race.

These films are among the most iconic examples of handmade cinema of all time.

Total run time: 53 min approx

Please note: this programme contains flashing light and is not suitable for people with certain types of epilepsy. 


Barbican Cinema has been supported by the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England which is administered by the BFI, as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund supporting arts and cultural organisations in England affected by the impact of Covid-19. #HereForCulture.

The words 'Here for Culture' in caps, with an outline of a square, corner point roughly north-facing, that ends once it meets the writing
The b&w logo for the BFI Film Audience Network


Early Abstractions No 3 (Interwoven) (US 1947-9 Dir Harry Smith 3 min 16mm sound) 

Sonata for Pen, Brush and Ruler (US 1968 Dir Barry Spinello 10 min digital sound) 

A Colour Box (UK/New Zealand 1935 Dir Len Lye 4 min digital sound) 

Dots (Canada 1940 Dir Norman McLaren 2 min digital sound) produced and distributed by National Film Board of Canada

Calypso (UK 1955 Dir Margaret Tait 4 min digital sound)

Mothlight (US 1963 Dir Stan Brakhage 4 min 16mm sound) 

Op Hop - Hop Op (Canada 1966 Dir Pierre Hebert 2 min digital sound) produced and distributed by National Film Board of Canada

The Playful Atom (Brazil 1961 Dir Roberto Miller 4 min 16mm sound) 

Black Is (US 1965 Dir Aldo Tambellini 4 min 16mm silent) 

Impresiones en la alta atmósfera (Spain 1988-9 Dir José Antonio Sistiaga 7 min digital sound) 

Free Radicals (1958 Dir Len Lye 4 min digital sound) 

Noisy Licking, Dribbling and Spitting (2014 Dir Vicky Smith 4 min 16mm sound)

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