Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Top of the Tops

Charles and Ray Eames were the dynamic duo of American post-war design. I have to confess that as a callow student I was a little disappointed when I learned Ray was not Charles' gay partner as I imagined, but his petite wife of many years, and her contribution to the Eames aesthetic was just as significant as her husbands.

The Eames Office not only created furniture and architecture of renown, but were among the first multi-media designers of their age, incorporating slide-shows, exhibition design, product design and philosophy into their practice.

The Eames short films are among my favourite works from their oeuvre, which often drew on their vast collection of 'stuff' - anthropological gewgaws amassed on their global travels.

Here we present two versions of Tops.  The first version was shot in monochrome to be included as a short segment of the popular Stars of Jazz (1958) TV series, and can be considered as an experimental work in progress, albeit with a jazz soundtrack. Nice.

This was followed in 1969 by a longer colour version with a fantastic spacey jazz score by Elmer Bernstein. A comparison of the music on both films gives a good illustration of the psych influence on jazz during the 1960s.

Dig the simple visual poetics. Away out!

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