Industrial Light and Magic

Mary Hallock Greenewalt received 11 patents for her “color organ,” an early form of synthesizer. She would spend the rest of her life defending them. Words and animation at

Patent No. 1,357,773: “Rheostat” (1920)
The rheostat was an essential mechanism of the Sarabet. It was an electrical device that varied the resistance of the electrical current so that Greenewalt could produce smooth fade-ups and fade-outs of light as she played. In this patent application, she describes the rheostat as “compact and substantial of a commercially practicable design; relatively simple as regards the aggregate number and arrangement of its parts, and at the same time includes a series of contact blocks and moveable contact member adapted for operation by human, mechanical or automatic power.”
The rheostat would become a standard tool for electronic instruments, and when General Electric infringed on Greenewalt’s patent in 1932, she sued. At first, a judge denied hearing the case, determining that the rheostat was too complex to have been invented by a woman. This decision was overturned on appeal by Judge Hugh Morris, who described Greenewalt as “a true artist” in his decision, and she eventually won the case.

Patent No. 1,385,944: “Notation for Indicating Light Effects” (1921)
“The object of my present invention is to provide a score comprising names, numerals, marks, symbols, hieroglyphs, or the like, constituting a chart or record sheet for denoting or interpreting a lighting sequence or succession to accompany music,” wrote Greenewalt in this patent. It involved Greenewalt’s translation of Beethoven’s 1801 “Moonlight” Sonata into a notation readable by a Sarabet player. Full video available here with interpreted tonalities by Melissa Grey

sator, arepo, tenet, opera, rotas or Magic Square

The Sator or Magic Square: sator, arepo, tenet, opera, rotas, is a palindrome that can be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, right-to-left and in a boustrophedonic, continuous back and forth. The earliest example of the ancient phrase was found in the ruins of Pompeii and in the excavations under the church of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome. It is often referred to as a Magic Square for its historic use as a device invoked in magical incantation.

The Magic Square, a recent visual music collaboration between Melissa Grey (sound), Nicole Antebi (animation) and featuring music by electronic music pioneer, Vince Clarke, premiered at The Morbid Anatomy Museum on May 19, 2016 along with an illustrated lecture by Colin Dickey on the history of magic squares and the mystical powers of palindromes.

Circuit Bridges Collaboration (2015)

I was honored to be the 2015 Animator-in-Residence at Circuit Bridges, “a concert series dedicated to highlighting the community of electroacoustic music creators.” I produced three one minute animated “sketches” that were distributed to a myriad of electroacoustic composers. Fifteen compositions were selected and performed by electric violinist, Eva Ingolf, at Gallery MC in New York on June 25th, Mobius in Boston on June 27th, and Mengi in Reykjavík Iceland on September 10.

Eva Ingolf performing Gesture 3 | Photo courtesy of Marc Fiaux


Eva Ingolf performing Gesture 1 | Photo courtesy of Marc Fiaux

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Eva Ingolf performing Gesture 2 | Photo courtesy of Marc Fiaux

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Sound check with Melissa Grey | Photo courtesy of Marc Fiaux

Press Release: Circuit Bridges and Jane Wang of Mobius present Circuit Bridges: The Round Trip, a concert featuring electroacoustic music on June 25 at Gallery MC, 549 W 52nd St, New York, New York. The concert features works by Kirsten Volness, Rain Worthington, David Morneau, Hans Tammen, Antonino ‘Eze’ Cuscinà, Max Lord, Stefanie Lubkowski, Danny McCarthy, Mick O’Shea, Bibiana Padilla Maltos, Caroline Park, and Jed Speare, being performed by LilitHartunian (violin), Eva Ingolf (electric violin), David Morneau (Gameboy), and Hans Tammen (Blippoo Box).The same program will be presented at Mobius in Cambridge, Massachusettson Saturday, June 27. The concert will feature the world premiere of Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame: Eva Ingolf, electric violin, presenting fifteen one-minute works by fifteen composers written specifically for Ingolf and new video animations created by artist Nicole Antebi. The purpose of Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame is to promote a great variety of contemporary music to audiences hungry to hear what living composers are writing today. Ingolf will perform one-minute works by composers James Bohn, Rosa Brands, Michael Braudy, Doug Thomas Cuadrado, Douglas DaSilva, Melissa Grey, Peter Hawkey, Dan Mackenzie, Daniel Mihai, Melanie Mitrano, David Morneau, AlonNechushtan, Daniel Schnee, Bob Siebert, and Carrin Tanaka. Mobius (est. 1977) is a non-profit, artist-run organization, whose mission is to generate, shape and test experimental art. The members of the organization believe an effective strategy for supporting this art is to establish grounds that build relationships among fellow artists. Mobius is committed to structuring environments that foster projects incorporating a wide range of disciplines. This approach sets in motion situations where the artist’s impact can be seen locally, nationally and internationally. Constructing art initiatives outside accepted frameworks and encouraging animated discourse with the public are fundamental to Mobius. Circuit Bridges is a monthly concert series dedicated to highlighting the community of electroacoustic music creators. Founded in 2014 by Robert Voisey and under the artistic direction of David Morneau and Melissa Grey, Circuit Bridges strives to explore all music under the electroacoustic umbrella. This includes but is not limited to sonic art, radio art, glitch, circuit bending, electronica, real-time improvisation, network performance, audiovisual composition, mash-up, and data sonification. Our mission is to connect with artists from around the globe to present the wealth of electroacoustic music being written today.

Video courtesy of James Ellis Coleman

The Telling of the Bees Telling (2015)


The Telling of the Bees Telling is a recent, non-fiction animation based on the ancient folk belief that stresses the importance of notifying the hive about significant matters of the day.  

It may be that the custom of telling the bees of a death originated in the idea that the bees were ‘souls,’ or that they were creatures who could fly up into the heavens from whence they had come. The custom is very widely spread; we find it all over Central Europe carried it, and the first allusion to it can be traced to classical times. – Hilda M. Ransome from The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore 

I created The Telling of the Bees Telling, a short, stop motion animation about the Telling of the Bees folk phenomenon specifically for Hive House, a community center and private residence in Echo Park, Los Angeles. The animation explores the non-phenomenal grey area between what historically has been considered a folk belief and meaningful cross species communication. The animation is composed of archival media, early slide specimens from the American Museum of Natural History, and hand-drawn elements with an original score by experimental composer, Melissa Grey. Grey includes sine waves, singing bowls, and her field recordings of honeybee hives from a friend’s farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The musical material, based on 432 Hz tuning, includes frequencies the bees emit during different phases of their existence. She ordered these frequencies into hexachords, a musical scale of six notes with a half step between the third and fourth steps. This sonically alludes to the hexagonal construction of beehives.

Note: “A Telling, Singing, and Blessing of the Bees” was held at Hive House, Los Angeles on June 5th, 2015. The event premiered an animation by Nicole Antebi, a folk concert for the bees with Emily Lacy, and a blessing of the bees ceremony led by Kate Purdy.

Additional screenings of The Telling of the Bees Telling:

Silverado Film Festival, Santa Ana, CA: September 26th, 2015

College of the Redwoods, Eureka, CA: October 20th, 2015

Animation Spectacular II at GAZE Film Series via ATA, San Francisco, CA: October 30th, 2015

Vanishing Point Art House Productions, Jersey City, NJ: March 3, 2016

Official Selection Green Screen Environmental Film Festival, Trinidad and Tobago: November 1-12th, 2016 

Official Selection Factual Animation Film Fuss, Whitechapel, London: Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October, 2016

Official Selection Croydon International Film Festival, London UK, 2016

Official Selection New Filmmakers New York, Courthouse Theater Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY 2017

The Telling of the Bees Telling published in Joaap Issue 10- a Non-Cartography of Life and Climate Change


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