Globetrotting New Zealander Len Lye was a gifted innovator in many areas of the arts — film, painting, sculpture, photography, and writing. Inventing ways to make films without a camera, he became one of the pioneers of the genre later known as the music video. Later he moved to New York's Greenwich Village and became a leading figure in the kinetic art movements of the 1950s and 60s. 

He was one of the rare examples of an experimental artist able to appeal not only to artist and critics but also to a broad public. Today his films are still screened regularly on MTV Europe and at rock concerts. His kinetic sculptures have attracted record crowds in a way that is rare for abstract art, and while viewers may not feel they understand his work they are fascinated and stirred by it. Roger Horrocks in his 2001 book Len Lye - A Biography, page 1

Free Radicals - A History of Experimental Film

2011, Subject - Film

From Len Lye to Gollum - New Zealand Animators

2004, Subject - Television

Presented by an animated pencil, but no less authoritative for it, From Len Lye to Gollum traces the history of Kiwi animation from birth in 1929, to the triumphs of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The interviews and animated footage cover every base, from early pioneers (Len Lye, Disney import John Ewing) to the possibilities opened by computers (Weta Digital, Ian Taylor’s Animation Research). Along the way Euan Frizzell remembers the dog he found hardest to animate and the famous blue pencil; and Andrew Adamson speculates on how ignorance helped keep Shrek fresh.

Flip & Two Twisters

1995, Subject - Television

Flip & Two Twisters is Shirley Horrocks' documentary about New Zealand-born artist Len Lye. Motion maestro Lye's international reputation rests on his work as a filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, and his lively contributions to the London and New York avant-garde. The documentary explores Lye's career and ideas, with the help of historical footage and excerpts from his films. It includes footage of Lye in typically exuberant form outlining his process, introduces many of his kinetic works, and documents how some of his most ambitious plans are being realised in New Zealand.

Abstract Cinema

1993, Subject - Television

Doodlin' - Impressions of Len Lye

1987, Subject - Television

This documentary, made seven years after the death of legendary filmmaker and kinetic artist Len Lye, tells Lye's story: from being a young boy staring at the sun, to travels around the Pacific and life in New York. It includes excerpts from many of his films, and interviews with second wife Ann and biographer Roger Horrocks. Len Lye himself is often heard, outlining his ideas of the ‘old brain’ and how Māori and Aboriginal art influenced his work. The grandeur of his ideas are only matched by their scale, with steel sculptures designed to be "at least 20 foot high".

Tal Farlow

1980, Director

Participles In Space

1979, Director

Fountain Of Hope

1959, Director

Free Radicals

1958, Director

Prime Time

1958, Director

All Souls Carnival

1957, Director


1957, Director

Life's Musical Minute

1953, Director

Color Cry

1952, Director

Cameramen At War

1943, Director

Kill Or Be Killed

1942, Director

Newspaper Train

1942, Director

Work Party

1942, Director

When The Pie Was Opened

1941, Director

Musical Poster #1

1940, Director, Writer

Swinging the Lambeth Walk

1939, Director - Music video

The Lambeth Walk was a popular 'swing jazz' dance in London in 1939. It included a hand gesture with the Yiddish "Oi!". New Zealand-born filmmaker Len Lye edited together different versions of the music (including Django Reinhardt on guitar and Stephane Grapelli on violin), and combined them with a variety of abstract images painted and scratched directly onto film, without using a camera. The colourful, dynamic animation was made with public money — for the Ministry of Information in the United Kingdom — scandalising some government bureaucrats.

Colour Flight

1938, Director

N. Or N.W.

1937, Director

Trade Tattoo

1937, Director

Rainbow Dance

1936, Director

The Birth Of The Robot

1936, Director

A Colour Box

1935, Director

Kaleidoscope (short film)

1935, Director, Writer - Television

Experimental Animation (Peanut Vendor)

1934, Director, Writer


1929, Director