Synopsis by David Lewis
This is an experimental short made in sculptor Isamu Noguchi's MacDougal Alley studio in New York. Noguchi had to be out of town for a time and asked filmmaker Marie Menken to look after the place. She brought her camera with her and filmed the sculptures utilizing hand-held techniques, appearing to imbue Noguchi's smooth and curvaceous sculptures with "movement." Menken later heightened the effect though skillful editing. At the time Visual Variations on Noguchi was first presented, no one had ever seen anything like it. Canadian animator Norman McLaren endorsed it, saying "never before have I seen such purely dynamic treatment of sculpture in film." Visual Variations on Noguchi circulated for years as a silent short through Menken's Gryphon film distribution company, but in 1955 she re-edited the title somewhat and added a striking soundtrack by composer Lucia Dlugoszewski; this is the form in which the film now stands.