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Blinkity Blank

Blinkity Blank

Year: 1952
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 5 min
Director: Norman McLaren
Producer: Norman McLaren
Animation: Norman McLaren
Sound: Joseph Champagne, Roger Beaudry
Music: Maurice Blackburn
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

Arguably Norman McLaren’s most important film, Blinkity Blank is a hypnotic, dizzying experience – a perfect expression of McLaren’s penchant for rhythmic interplay. With characteristic, low-key panache, McLaren explores con­cepts that structural filmmakers only began to investigate a decade later – concepts such as the flicker effect, the “phi” phenomenon and filmic perception.

McLaren carved, scratched or coloured images onto almost every frame of the filmstrip, leaving between one and four blank frames between drawings. Maynard Collins (author of Norman McLaren, a major book on the filmmaker) explains McLaren’s pioneering theory on film and movement: “[Mc­Laren] discovered that, if shown three or four frames, the eye retained the last image the longest, the first image next and the middle image the least. With this knowledge, he used the intervening blank spaces to create movement... The motion within the film is an illu­sion... The story is not so much told by the drawings as implied by the blank spaces between the drawings.”

The soundtrack consists of improvisational jazz music and synthetic sounds scratched onto the film.

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