Terminal Self

(John Whitney Jr., 1971, 8 min)

Historic Film, Short Film

A photo of a woman taken from a magazine is transformed practically beyond recognition, her outline and features smeared into a vaporous abstraction.  Points of visual convergence, which manifest as hot-spots of image intensity, are meant to suggest points of human self-awareness, which coalesce into a gradual self knowledge that can only culminate in death – the absolute, terminal self. 

John Whitney Jr. realized this piece on the second Whitney mechanical analog machine (the first had been used to make Lapis and his father’s classic Catalog), an analog computer-controlled camera setup built by John Sr. to allow for powerful image manipulation via precise motion control.  With this camera setup, and a lot of ingenuity and patience, John Jr. was able to transform a two-dimensional still image into a cascading, three-dimensional, moving one. -Mark Toscano

Print courtesy of the Estate of John and James Whitney and the Academy Film Archive.


Directed by John Whitney Jr.


Wednesday, March 20 6:59pm

Psychedelic Visions And Expanded Consciousness Los Angeles in the ‘60s and ‘70s

Hyperkinetic experimental film and animation in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s both echoed and informed the volcanic psychedelia that defined this era. Presented by Adam Hyman, Executive Director of

Michigan Theater (Screening Room)