Experimental filmmaker Hy Hirsh used oscilloscope imagery in his 1951 Divertissement Rococo, as well as in his 1952 Eneri and 1953’s 3-D Come Closer. Set to African drumming, Eneri (the backwards spelling of his then paramour, Irene) features oscilloscope patterns throughout. Hirsh used a homemade optical printer and a system–similar to John Whitney’s–of drawing on layers of colored oils to add depth to the patterns in different colors, and combining these with backgrounds realized through traditional animation techniques and Hirsh’s proto-light show “oil wipe” process, wherein layers of colored oils were combined on a glass tray. The results were edited onto multiple split screens within the frame, and the film concludes in fireworks.
For Hirsh’s 1959 Chasse des Touches, the filmmaker ran his fingers through another tray filled with colored oils to accompany a Thelonious Monk composition. His Scratch Pad (1960) employed the scratch technique used by Lye and Maurice Lemaitre, among others, to superimpose cubes, vertical lines, and fuzzy-edged stars that rise, zoom, and recede from the frame, while providing jumpy outlines for representational footage of power lines and railroad tracks that seem to “electrify” these everyday objects.
In 1956, Hirsh filmed Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys’s kinetic sculpture for the film Gyromorphosis. The sculpture was part of Nieuwenhuys’s “New Babylo” project, a utopian design for the future wherein humans would live without material possessions in a constantly changing environment. As in Bute’s Rhythm in Space, both Nieuwenhuys’s work and Hirsh’s film of it in action are direct descendents of Moholy’s Light Space Modulator, both as experiments in light play and the rhetoric of a future-looking transcendence.