A photograph of just a few of Len Lye’s animation stencils held at the archive.

September 12, 2012 was my last day of research at the Len Lye Archive, maintained by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Len Lye’s ideas about the role of “kinaesthetic empathy” in art-making profoundly shaped how I think about the history of animation. As a Visiting Researcher at the archive, I got to study the documents and working tools of this pioneering experimental animator.

Getting to spend some time with Lye’s sketchbooks and filmmaking instruments (especially his stencils) really changed how I think about direction animation. I also had the pleasure of meeting with Roger Horrocks, who wrote the definitive biography on Lye (along with several other great books on the artist). Special thanks to Len Lye archivist and curator Paul Brobbel, who made sure that my time at the gallery not only productive, but also fun. This trip was supported by the Graduate Ignition Grant from Northwestern University.