MAT200A 03W

schedule MAT200A 03W

Gary Thomas


F.T. MARINETTI, et al.   "THE FUTURIST CINEMA" [1916] [presentation view]



F.T. MarinettiFuturism was an Italian art movement active from 1909 to the 1940's that glorified the speed, motion, violence, and machinery of the 20th century.  It sought to destroy traditional artistic and social values in order to replace them with entirely new forms which they felt were more appropriate to life in the modern world.

Towards this goal, they published over 200 manifestos on a wide range of subjects such as:


Futurist Cinema

"Vita Futurista - How a Futurist Sleeps"

"Vita Futurista - Caricature of Hamlet"

"Vita Futurista - An Introspective Research into States of Mind"

  In the manifesto "The Futurist Cinema", F.T. Marinetti, Bruno Corra, Emilio Settimelli, Arnaldo Ginna, Giacomo Balla, and Remo Chiti outlined their Futurist ideals for cinema as an entirely new form of art.  To summarize in their words:

"The Futurist cinema... a joyful deformation of the universe, an alogical, fleeting synthesis of life in the world..."

"The universe will be our vocabulary."

"This is how we decompose and recompose the universe according to our marvelous whims..."

"Painting + sculpture + plastic dynamism + words-in-freedom + composed noises + architecture + synthetic theatre = Futurist cinema."

To accomplish this, they list fourteen disparate points that the Futurist film is to consist of:

  1. Cinematic analogies
    "The mountains, seas, woods, cities, crowds, armies, squadrons, aeroplanes will be our formidable expressive words: the universe will be our vocabulary."
    "We shall add color to the dialogue by swiftly, simultaneously showing every image that passes through the actors’ brains."
  2. Cinematic poems, speeches, poetry
    "...transforming ... the most nostalgically monotonous weepy poetry into violent, exciting, and highly exhilarating spectacles."
  3. Cinematic simultaneity and interpretation
    "We shall project two or three different visual episodes at the same time..."
  4. Cinematic musical researches
    "dissonances, harmonies, symphonies of gestures, events, colors, lines, etc."
  5. Dramatized states of mind on film
  6. Daily exercises in freeing ourselves from mere photographic logic
  7. Filmed dramas of objects
    "Objects animated, humanized... removed from their normal surroundings... throws into relief their amazing construction and nonhuman life."
  8. Show windows of filmed ideas, events, types, objects, etc.
  9. Congresses, flirts, fights, and marriages of funny faces, mimicry, etc.
    "Example: a big nose that silences a thousand congressional fingers by ringing an ear, while two policemen’s moustaches arrest a tooth."
  10. Filmed unreal reconstructions of the human body
  11. Filmed dramas of disproportion
    "a thirsty man who pulls out a tiny drinking straw that lengthens umbilically as far as a lake and dries it up instantly."
  12. Potential dramas and strategic plans of filmed feelings
  13. Linear, plastic, chromatic equivalences, etc.
    "...with white lines on black we shall show the inner, physical rhythm of a husband who discovers his wife in adultery and chases the lover..."
  14. Filmed 'words-in-freedom' in movement
    "...synoptic tables of lyric values—dramas of humanized or animated letters—orthographic dramas—typographical dramas..."

It's important to note, however, that this manifesto was written shortly after their experience in producing "Vita Futurista (The Futurist Life)" [1916], the only film made by the Italian Futurists.  In spite of the enthusiasm evident in the manifesto, the Futurists did no further work in cinema after its publication.


Futurist Biographies
F.T. Marinetti Audio Clips
Futurist Manifestos
Futurist and Related Cinema


  "USER INTERFACE: A PERSONAL VIEW" [1989] [presentation view]
    Alan KayAlan Kay is one of the pioneers of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) and an inventor of the Smalltalk programming language.  He has worked at Xerox PARC, Atari, Apple, and Disney, among others.

Based on his and other's research on learning and creativity, Kay developed the idea of displaying graphical representations of computing functions to the user, which would allow him to easily develop ideas in real-time.

Dynabook [1968]

KiddiKomp [1970]

  "One of the most compelling snares is the use of the term metaphor to describe a correspondence between what the users see on the screen and how they should think about what they are manipulating...  At PARC we coined the phrase user illusion to describe what we were about when designing user interface. There are clear connotations to the stage, theatrics, and magic - all of which gave much stronger hints as to the direction to be followed."

"It's best to learn something kinesthetically, then iconically, and finally the intuitive knowledge will be in place that will allow the powerful but less vivid symbolic processes to work at their strongest."

Key Points

  • There are three stages of learning: kinesthetic, visual and symbolic.
  • The computer is a medium and, like the printed book during the middle ages, has the potential to modify the thought patterns of those who are literate.
  • User interface design is closely related to learning.

Or as he summarizes succinctly: "Doing with Images makes Symbols"



FLEX System
LOGO examples
GUI History






One point that struck me about Futurism was that many of its works were n dimensional pieces representing (n + x) dimensional events.  For example, Umberto Boccioni's sculpture "Unique Forms of Continuity in Space" can be thought of as an intersection of three-dimensional space with a four-dimensional event (i.e. x, y, z, & time).  Similarly, Giacomo Balla's painting "Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash" can be thought of as a two-dimensional projection of a four-dimensional event.

Additionally, I found the Futurist's emphasis of motion, as well as the use of distorting mirrors in their film "Vita Futurista" very intriguing.


Video as 3D media object

Composition of media objects and output plane

Motion through space via strange attractors


Multidimensional Views

With these points in mind, I thought it would be interesting to consider what a 'Futurist Interface' might consist of.  Because of the (n + x) dimensionality of many of their works, I felt it was important to allow a user to view and edit the components of a n-dimensional composition in an (n + x) space.

By visualizing the time dimension of a media clip as a spatial dimension, this allows the user to create non-linear video compositions, where the final n-dimensional output is defined by the intersection of an output object (a 2D plane in the case of film and video) with the (n + x) dimensional media objects.  It also allows the user to perform spatial and temporal transformations on the media objects, which would be useful for producing cinematic simultaneity and non-linearity.


Viewing media objects in a multi-dimensional space would allow for arrangement by content (subject matter, color, speed, etc.)  Moving the output object through various regions of this space would be useful for producing content related to the Futurist's ideas of cinematic analogy, and also fits well with the Futurist's adoration of motion.

Strange attractors (visualizations of unsolvable differential equations) would be a particularly useful way to create these motions, due to their tendency to 'orbit' around points in space in a complex and unpredictable fashion. 

Related Works   Video Object Visualization

ART+COM (MPG 370k)
ART+COM (MPG 470k)
ART+COM (MPG 270k)

Temporal Distortion

Lartigue (JPG 30K)
Doisneau (JPG 29K)
datadouche (MOV 2.4M), original (MOV 2.5M)

(n + x) Dimensionality

Marcos Novak
Quaternion Visualizations


Strange Attractor Visualizations