Unique innovators within the realm of animation, Alexandre Alexeieff and his partner Claire Parker are notably given attention for the distinct films created with their ‘pin screen’ technique. Night on Bald Mountain, The Nose and Pictures at an Exhibition are rare and beautifully poetic examples of this technique which was invented by Alexeieff and developed as a means for visual expression all throughout his career.
Alexeieff was indeed a tireless mind when it came to innovation and with each work he always attempted to push the medium and try out new perspectives. This can be clearly seen within his lesser known commercial work which took off after the War. It was working for large companies such as L’Oréal, Evian, Esso and Nescafe that Alexeieff and Parker could invest in experimentation which led to various innovative techniques. “Totalised Animation” is a procedure that entails long exposures of objects. Alexeieff created a system of pendulums that enabled him to plot precise oscillated forms which he then filmed using his totalisation technique. Superimposing frames and adding projected text in the final composite brought about unique effects that can be seen in his work for Nescafe and the film company Cocinor, both made in 1957.
There was a growing trend from the forties onwards towards making ‘synthetic images’ and Alexeieff seems to be historically well placed as amongst one of the protagonists, if not precursors of this method. Interestingly, others working within this field were to be found in America, (Alexeieff being in Paris), with the Whitney Brothers leading the work towards computer assisted images in the Seventies. Alexeieff and Parker will most probably be remembered foremost as artists with their fiercely independent and uniquely animated films. Their commercial work however was not merely just a means to finance their films, it was also a possibility to expand and innovate – a common trend of the advertising World of today. Advertising as a means to sponsor artists and push the boundaries of technological as well as aesthetic expression.