Hy Hirsh - Filmography     



Still from Eneri, scanned from 16mm film print by CVM


Hirsh's own CV lists 10 completed films:

Divertissement Rococo, 1951

Eneri, 1953

Come Closer, stereoscopic, 1953

Gyromorphosis, 1954 *

Autumn Spectrum, 1957

Defense d'Afficher, 1958

Chasse des Touches, 1959

Scratch Pad, 1961

La Couleur de la Forme, 1961

Etude Anatomique du Photographe, 1961

Source: CV by Hy Hirsh, cited in Keefer, Cindy. "Hy Hirsh Preservation: History and Mystery," in Kinetica 3 catalog, Los Angeles, 2001.

* may actually be 1956


Unfinished film:

Decollages Recolles, likely a film for two projectors (description below)



Cinematorgrapher and Actor in Even-As You and I, 1937

Horror Dream, with Sidney Peterson, 1947

The Cage, with Sidney Peterson, 1947

Clinic of Stumble, with Sidney Peterson

(more to come)



Hirsh oscil Image (c) CVM

Brief fragments of Hirsh's oscilloscope imagery (black and white) used by Jordan Belson in the Vortex 5 concerts, 1959. Images above, from the raw footage provided by Hirsh to Belson (not the final shots used by Belson).

Caro Coffee Commercial, date unknown, likely made in Amsterdam




hirsh slide

35mm slide by Hirsh, part of a series of studies for Defense d'Afficher. Hirsh collection at CVM.


More about the films, from Keefer, Cindy. "Hy Hirsh Preservation: History and Mystery," in Kinetica 3 catalog, Los Angeles, 2001.

"From programs and screening notes we know of other film work not listed on Hirsh’s CV: Djinn, Double Jam, Recherche and Change of Key, possibly multiple projection performances in the 50’s with material later used in finished films...Prints or materials were never found for Etude Anatomique du Photographe (other than the title footage) or Recherche (which may have been ‘research’ or ‘experiments’). There has always been uncertainty about La Couleur de la Forme. [Robert] Pike [of CFS, the distributor] was never absolutely positive that the film he distributed as La Couleur de la Forme was actually that film (he thought it could have been Recherche, Moritz thought possibly Etude), hence he never edited the titles onto this film...Studying the images of Couleur, it is not difficult to believe it could actually be Etude Anatomique du
" - Keefer, p. 13

"Decollages Recolles is a mystery as it is unfinished, with no indication of the track Hirsh intended. We had two
reels, each with a head title, but no identification whether they were to be printed together, or projected side by
side (which seems more likely). Parts of reel one have optically printed layers of fireworks, oscilloscopes, birds,
etc. Hirsh reprinted images similar to those in Eneri, Come Closer and Divertissement Rococo. Reel two is a
much less polished collage with live action shots including city windows, a marching band, monkeys, circus performers,
Charlie Chaplin footage and Paris neon at night.
" - Keefer, p. 13


"The attempts of Bob Pike of the Creative Film Society to restore the films led to even further confusion in some cases — linking the extraordinary visuals of Couleur de la Forme (if indeed these visuals belong to that title, since the original was not labeled) with a completely inappropriate soundtrack." Moritz, William. "Non-Objective Film, The Second Generation," in Film as Film, Formal Experiment in Film, 1910 - 1975, David Curtis and Richard Francis, Eds. London: Hayward Gallery and Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979. Online at CVM's Library




Divertissement Rococo (San Francisco) - This is an abstract film composed entirely of oscilliscope (sic) and other moving, artificial patterns, and intended for the entertainment of the viewer. To make the film, Mr. Hirsh constructed a unique optical printer which allowed him a great range of experiment in superimposition of images and colors. He did not attempt a close synchronization of the pictures to the accompanying music, selecting instead compositions which seemed to correspond with the texture and mood of each section of the film; music, visuals and purpose all combining to suggest the title. (kinesis notes, rental catalog)



image courtesy em-arts

Gyromorphosis - This film is based on a sculpture from the New Babylon project by the dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys. From 1956 to 1974 Constant was presenting blueprints, texts and scale models for his visionary, global city, where the Homo Ludens of the future would live as a new kind of nomad, free from material wants and possessions, no longer bound to fixed locations or fixed relationships with either family or tribe. Mankind would live in an ever-evolving environment, interacting with constantly changing constellations of people and fulfilling life through play.

Gyromorphosis was the first film Hy Hirsh made after he moved to Amsterdam. He wrote: “Gyromorphosis strives to bring into actuality the inherent kinetic qualities seen in the construction-sculpture of Constant Nieuwenhuys of Amsterdam. To realize this aim I have put into motion, one by one, pieces of this sculpture and, with coloured lighting, filmed them in various detail, overlaying the images on the film as they appear and disappear. In this way, I have hoped to produce sensations of acceleration and suspension which are suggested to me by the sculpture itself.” (note by Joost Rekveld)


Autumn Spectrum - "A film collage abstraction of images reflected on the water of Amsterdam canals...the entire conception, the composition, the 'montage', the blending and superimposing of images are all accomplished in the camera. In this way I believe I found means for furthering the evolution of the camera as a creative instrument.

"Much emphasis is placed on continuity and fluidity of motion. The whole film is in one 'scene' without a single moment of darkness. In AUTUMN SPECTRUM movement is a dominant element, though nostalgia is the real theme of the film. The colored patterns and their peculiar movements as reflected in the canals of Amsterdam and the resultant tranquil satisfaction are the stimulants for this project." (Hy Hirsh, in Cinema 16 Film Notes, Season 13, Program 13, March 30, 1960 - A Second Program of Films from the 1958 International Experimental Film Festival in Brussels)



Come Closer, in polaroid stereo 3-D, is quite accomplished and well-integrated, with oscilloscope patterns twirling in festive arrangements that recall carnival decorations, while Jamaican music supports this mood; the depth sensation is pleasant and striking, with many figures choreographed to move in appropriate rhythmic pulses that exploit a forward-backward alignment, while other figures (notably a set of bracelet-like circles), through the magic of optical printing, intersect and move through each other in a delightfully impossible way. Eneri, Scratch Pad, and La Couleur de la Forme display a high degree of technical inventiveness; though Eneri and La Couleur seem somewhat unclear in structure (perhaps due to fragmentary print condition), Scratch Pad ranks as one of the best scratch-on-film works, using abstract paint-on-film and live action footage, and in both cases scratching over what are revealed to be the energy centres of the movements. (Moritz, Film as Film, 1979)




RIGHTS and PERMISSIONS: This Filmography page was created by and is copyright Center for Visual Music, 2015. Please do not quote without attributing proper credit and full url. Permission is not granted for duplication, publication, reproduction for commercial use or for any publications without obtaining permission from CVM at CVMaccess (at) gmail.com

Individual texts (c) the authors

Images (c) Center for Visual Music, 2005-2015 unless noted.


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