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Artist's Profile: John Whitney

Moritz, William

Los Angeles native John Whitney was a pioneer in techno- logical art, kineticism and motion graphics. In the 1940s, after attending Pomona College in California and traveling abroad, he made a series of abstract films with his brother James Whitney. In 1960, John founded Motion Graphics Inc. and produced title sequences for television and film. Six years later, he received a three-year grant from IBM, with which he made PERMUTATIONS using a digital computer. John created some of the first techniques in "motion control" of camera, zoom and artwork, which paved the way for the development of the star gate slit-scan sequences in the films 2001 and STAR WARS. For this and other ground- breaking work, John was awarded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences "Medal of Commendation for Cinematic Pioneering" in 1986.

Selected Filmography:
YearTitle Distributor
1970 OSAKA 1-2-3
1991 MOONDRUM Mystic

A collection of James and John Whitney's films is in the archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
333 South La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Tel: (310) 247-3000

For more on John Whitney, contact his son Michael Whitney:

Also check out the 1984 videodisc THE WORLD OF JOHN WHITNEY, part of Pioneer Laserdisc's "Visual Pathfinders" series. Or check out these works by John Whitney:
Digital Harmony. Petersbourgh, NH: McGraw-Hill, 1980.


Digital Daddy
The Whitney Brothers Who's Who in Filmmaking: James WhitneyMoritz, William. Sightlines, v.19 n.2 (Winter 1985/1986): 25-27.
You Can't Get Then from Now Moritz, William. Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art Journal n. 29 (Summer 1981): 26-40.
James Whitney Profile - Iota Center
Making the Soul Visiblein the Kinetica™ 4 program
Bill Alves: Computer Video Works
EnlightenmentMoritz, William. James Whitney Retrospective', 1984.
Hy HirshWilliam Moritz, Musee du Cinema, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1996
Hy HirshMoritz, William. Articulated Light: The Emergence of Abstract Film in America. Boston: Harvard Film Archive, 1995, 12.
James Whitney RetrospectiveExhibition catalog. Toronto International Animation Festival program. 1984, 9-14.
Influence and Inspiration: The Great Tradition of Visual MusicMoritz, William. Exhibition catalog. KINETICA™ 2. Los Angeles: The iotaCenter, 2000.
The Enigma of Hy HirshBendazzi, Giannalberto, "The Enigma of Hy Hirsch" Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation. Paris, Editions Liana Levi, 1991, p. 145
Color Music: Integral CinemaMoritz, William. "Musique de la Couleur - Cinéma Intégral (Color Music - Integral Cinema)." Poétique de la Couleur. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 1995, 9-13.
Visual Music and Film-As-Art in California Before 1950from On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900-1950, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996
Animation in the Post-Industrial Era The Oxford History of World Cinema. Ed. Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996, 551-558.
Media Art in the 60s: The Abstract, The Spiritual and The Psychedelic Cuba, Larry. Kinetica™ 3 Catalog 2002.
Artists' Testimonials for Oskar FischingerKinetica™ 2 Catalog, 2000
Jules Engel Ehrlich, Susan. Exhibition catalog. Santa Barbara Museum of Art. 1990.
Restoring the Aesthetics of Early Abstract FilmsMoritz, William. A Reader In Animation Studies. Ed. Jayne Pilling. Sydney: John Libbey, 1997, 221-227. Non-Objective Film: The Second GenerationMoritz, William. Film as Film, Formal Experiment in Film, 1910 - 1975, 1979.
Mary Ellen Bute: Seeing SoundAnimation World Magazine, Vol. 1, no. 2 (May 1996), pp. 29 - 32
Elfriede! On the Road with Mrs. Oskar Fischinger by John Canemaker
The Importance of Being FischingerMoritz, William. Ottawa International Animated Film Festival Program, 1976.
Beyond 'Abstract' Criticism Moritz, William
Norman McLaren and Jules Engel: Post-ModernistsMoritz, William. A Reader in Animation Studies, 1997.
Oskar Fischinger: Artist of the CenturyMoritz, William. KINETICA™ 2 Catalog, 2000.


John Whitney by Patric Prince and Robert Holzman
Cybernetic Cinema from Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood
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