Dada Universal Clip - Mary Ellen Bute

Rental Format(s): Digital File

Co-makers: Mary Ellen Bute and Ted Nemeth
Original format: 35mm sound film 1.37:1
Courtesy: Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth

One of the liveliest of Mary Ellen Bute's abstract films, Dada was intended to be part of a Universal Newsreel segment, showing Bute and her partner Ted Nemeth at work in their tiny New York studio. No copies of the newsreel itself are known to exist at this time. -Cecile Starr

By 1934, Mary Ellen Bute (1906-1983) was purposefully engaged in making abstract films and by 1954 was exploring electronic imagery. Trained in painting and stage lighting, she continued theoretical studies with mathematician Joseph Schillinger and musician Leon Theremin. Her early collaborators in film were Schillinger, Lewis Jacobs and Melville Webber, but it was with cameraman Ted Nemeth that she realized an ongoing series of short "seeing-sound" films. She also filmed a feature-length version of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. -Bruce Posner

Before filming Mary Ellen Bute's short abstract films (1931-1953), Theodore "Ted" J. Nemeth (1911-1986) learned his craft creating special effects for feature film "trailers." As head of his own New York studio, founded in 1940 the year Bute and he were married, he made documentaries, commercials, and short subjects, two of which were Academy Award nominees. -Aram Boyajian

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