Blacktop

1952

Dir. Charles Eames, Ray Eames , 16mm Color Sound 00:11:00

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Description

It is a one reel color film which begins with the over-turning of a bucket of soapy-water on an asphalt schoolyard. As the water slowly flows across the asphalt, the camera records the textures and patterns of the soap bubbles, the water, the asphalt, and the sun reflection. These visual images are accompanied on the sound track by a harpsichord recording by Wanda Landowksa. In this, his very first attempt at filmmaking, Eames reveals his ability as a graphic artist, his eye for subtle, meaningful images.

[Source: Robert Pike Dissertation, 1960]

BLACKTOP depicts the abstract shapes produced by the movement of soapy water across the asphalt surface of a schoolyard near the Eames Office. Charles shot the film with a 16mm hand-held camera while office colleague Don Albinson controlled the hose and movement of the water. Although he was still an amateur, Charles edited the film himself on homemade equipment, synchronizing it to Bach's Goldberg Variations by taking visual cues from the film's optical track. BLACKTOP is a quintessential Eames product, combining many of their favorite preoccupations--from their ability to see "found objects" in new ways to Ray's interest in abstract art and Charles's determination to educate himself in science and other technical matters.

[Source: Library of Congress]

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