Saturday, September 24, 2011

Watch rare experimental film collaborations with Raymond Scott

Muppet master JIM HENSON

More than a decade ago, before I began to work with Gert-Jan Blom on the book and 2-CD set, "MANHATTAN RESEARCH INC.," few details had emerged about Jim Henson's collaborations with Raymond Scott. We now know that in the mid-1960s, Scott began creating a series of experimental films with Henson, who was an emerging artist. He would later have success with Sesame StreetThe Muppet Show, and Hollywood movies, but the Henson/Scott projects were not intended for children. Instead the films are often serious, even creepy, and although they are nearly a half-century old, they have a surprisingly modern feel.

Despite the 28-year difference in age, Raymond clicked with the Muppet master, and here you can watch five examples of their creative output:
Their first project was an ambitious puppetry/film combination titled, "LIMBO: THE ORGANIZED MIND." Henson was intrigued by thought processes and idea sources, and wanted to visualize these concepts. "Limbo" is a character he created using eyes and mouth, made from foam rubber, that seemed to float in front of images that evoke the mind's inner-workings. Henson narrates Limbo's thoughts while Raymond Scott's electronic music and sound effects articulate how and where his thoughts are filed. "THE ORGANIZED MIND" was performed on television at least twice; in July of 1966 on The Mike Douglas Show, and again on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1974. • Watch "LIMBO: THE ORGANIZED MIND" >> here

The "Organized Mind" concept was later reworked into a TV commercial for Bufferin® brand pain-reliever, titled "Memories," which was also scored by Scott. • Watch "MEMORIES" >> here
In 1966-'67, Jim created two short films for a contest at Montreal's Expo 67. One of these was "Ripples." Shot on 16mm film, it explored the process of creative inspiration, and was accompanied by an electronic score created by Raymond Scott. Shot in January of 1967, it featured an architect, played by future Sesame Street colleague Jon Stone, tossing pebbles into water making ripples. • Watch "RIPPLES" >> here
Also created for Expo 67,"Wheels That Go" is a short film made by Jim Henson in 1967 that explored motion and movement and was again accompanied by an electronic score created by Raymond Scott. It features Henson's son Brian playing with things with wheels. • Watch "WHEELS THAT GO" >> here
In 1967, Henson was contracted by IBM to make a film extolling the virtues of their new technology, the MT/ST, a primitive word processor. The film would explore how the MT/ST would help control the massive amount of documents generated by a typical business office. "Paperwork Explosion," produced in October 1967, is a quick-cut montage of images and words illustrating the intensity and pace of modern business. Once again, Henson collaborated with Raymond Scott on the electronic sound track. • Watch "THE PAPERWORK EXPLOSION" >> here

See also:

• Film soundtracks, and more details about the Jim Henson/Raymond Scott projects are featured in the "MANHATTAN RESEARCH INC." 144-page hardcover, full-color book and 2-CD set  >> info here

• Jim Henson's "RED BOOK" >> here

NOTE: The now iconic color photos, such as the one used in the header of this blog, were taken by Jim Henson during a visit to Raymond Scott's New York studios.

1 comment:

  1. I bought the OHM years ago, and it's a great primer for 20th century composers. Same with Manhattan Research, Inc. The histories and packaging in both are amazing, and are a must have for those serious about electronic music.