Larry Cuba 

(1950) is widely recognized as a pioneer in the use of computers in animation art. Producing his first computer animation in 1974, Cuba was at the forefront of the early computer-animation artists.

Larry Cuba is one of the most important artists currently working in the tradition known variously as abstract, absolute or concrete animation. This is the approach to cinema (film and video) as a purely visual experience, an art form related more to painting and music than to drama or photography. Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter, Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye, Norman McLaren and the Whitney brothers are among the diverse group of painters, sculptors, architects, filmmakers and video and computer artists who have made distinguished contributions to this field over the last 73 years.


Insofar as it is understood as the visual equivalent of musical composition, abstract animation necessarily has an underlying mathematical structure; and since the computer is the supreme instrument of mathematical description, it's not surprising that computer artists have inherited the responsibility of advancing this tradition into new territory. Ironically, very few artists in the world today employ the digital computer exclusively to explore the possibilities of abstract animation as music's visual counterpart. John Whitney, Sr. is the most famous, and rightly so: he was the first to carry the tradition into the digital domain, and his book Digital Harmony is among the most rigorous (if also controversial) theoretical treatments of the subject. But for me Cuba's work is by far the more aesthetically satisfying. Indeed, if there is a Bach of abstract animation it is Larry Cuba.


Words like elegant, graceful, exhilarating or spectacular do not begin to articulate the evocative power of these sublime works characterized by cascading designs, startling shifts of perspective and the ineffable beauty of precise, mathematical structure. They are as close to music – particularly the mathematically transcendent music of Bach – as the moving-image arts will ever get.


Source: Calculated Movements: Interview with Larry Cuba by Gene Youngblood from Video and the Arts Magazine, Winter 1986



Larry Cuba is widely recognized as a pioneer in the use of computers in animation art. Producing his first computer animation in 1974, Cuba was at the forefront of the computer-animation artists considered the "second generation" – those who directly followed the visionaries of the sixties: John Whitney, Sr., Stan Vanderbeek and Lillian Schwartz.


While still a graduate student at The California Institute of the Arts, he was convinced of the artistic potential of computer graphics, but this was years before art schools began teaching the subject. Cuba's solution was to solicit access to the mainframe computers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and teach himself computer animation by producing his first film, First Fig.


In 1975, John Whitney, Sr. invited Cuba to be the programmer on one of his films. The result of this collaboration was Arabesque.


Subsequently, Cuba produced three more computer-animated films: 3/78 (Objects and Transformations), Two Space, and Calculated Movements. These works were shown at film festivals throughout the world – including Los Angeles, Hiroshima, Zagreb and Bangkok – and have won numerous awards. Cuba's been invited to present his work at various conferences such as Siggraph, ISEA, Ars Electronica, and Art and Math Moscow and his films have been included in screenings at New York's Museum of Modern Art, The Hirshhorn Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Amsterdam Filmmuseum and the Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo.


Cuba received grants for his work from the American Film Institute and The National Endowment for the Arts and was awarded a residency at the Center for Art and Media Technology Karlsruhe (ZKM). He has served on the juries for the Siggraph Electronic Theater, the Montpellier Festival of Abstract Film, The Ann Arbor Film Festival and Ars Electronica.


In the pure form of abstraction that Cuba pursues, visual perception is paramount. But because the images are generated via algorithms written in computer language, there is a paradox in trying to use words to describe images for which words do not exist.


Source: Larry Cuba's website



Larry Cuba, 2nd generation


Digital Harmony (1980): On the Complementarity of Music and Visual Art – John Whitney, Sr. wanted to create a dialog between "the voices of light and tone." All of his early experiments in film and the development of sound techniques lead toward this end. He felt that music was an integral part of the visual experience; the combination had a long history in man's primitive development and was part of the essence of life. His theories On the complementarity of Music and Visual Art were explained in his book, Digital Harmony, published by McGraw-Hill in 1980. (Paradise 2012)



The Film Work of Norman McLaren (2007) by Terence Dobson approaches the puzzles that are set by the film work of Norman McLaren. It is divided into three parts, based on chronological divisions in McLaren's life. The first part deals with McLaren's formative years in Scotland and England and examines his early exposure to the social, artistic and institutional influences that were to shape his filmic output. The second part deals with McLaren's maturation in the USA and Canada. The third part examines specific issues in relation to McLaren and his work and as such is concerned principally with his mature output. (John Libbey Publishing)

Audiovisuology: See this sound (2010) - An Interdisciplinary Compendium of Audiovisual Culture. This all-embracing compendium brings together texts on various art forms in which the relationship between sound and image plays a significant role and the techniques used in linking the two. The entire spectrum of audiovisual art and phenomena is presented in 35 dictionary entries. (Cornerhouse)

Mutations (1972) by Lillian Schwartz, who is an early pioneer in the use of the computer in the Arts and was a consultant at the AT&T Bell Laboratories. Mutations is based on computer images, laser beams diffracted in plastics, and crystal growth in polarized light. The film features a stunning soundtrack by Jean-Claude Risset. (Olsen)

Film as Film: Formal Experiment in Film 1910-1975 (1979) is a catalogue of an exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery in London from 3 May until 17 June 1979 on rare, essential and controversial avant-garde film history.

Catalog (1961) - John Whitney's sample reel was artfully edited and ended with a lovely final image of a lissajous curve multiplied dozens of times, to appear twisting in waves, suggesting the time-lapse of a blossoming flower. The reel was released as Catalog and became a popular classic of 1960's psychedelica. (Animation World Magazin, Dr. William Moritz)