The process of making a film can be an attempt to describe how the world is structured, what it contains, and how its invisible systems work. 

Films showing in this section: 

3:01 - Len Lye Tusalava 1929 (silent)
3:10 - Tacita Dean A Bag of Air 1995
3:14 - Paul Rogers Wax 1989
3:26 - Eduardo Paolozzi History of Nothing 1963

Len Lye Tusalava 1929 (silent)

9 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive 

Tusalava is a Samoan word meaning ‘In the end, everything is just the same’. Len Lye had recently arrived in London from the South Pacific when he began this film, which draws on Aboriginal imagery - such as the witchetty grub - in its representation of ‘the beginnings of organic life’. The critic Roger Fry wrote to Lye, ‘I thought you had seen the essential thing, as no-one had hitherto.’ 


Len Lye was born in Christchurch New Zealand in 1901. He studied at Wellington Technical Institute and Canterbury College of Art (NZ). In London, he exhibited with the Seven and Five Society and at the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition, and designed bookjackets for Robert Graves and Laura Riding. The success of A Colour Box 1936 led to commissions from the GPO and other advertisers. He moved to New York in 1944 to work for The March of Time. Post War, he self-funded films, and exhibited kinetic sculpture. He died in New York in 1980. 

Tacita Dean A Bag of Air 1995

3 minutes. Collection: Frith Street Gallery 

The central image in Tacita Deans’ short film A Bag of Air is alchemy, the ancient system that linked the physical world through transformation. However, Libby Anson comments that since filling bags of air is ‘too sublime a pursuit to be truly scientific, Dean sees the process as connected to homeopathy and as a metaphor for creating harmony in the soul ‘. Art Monthly 1995 


Tacita Dean was born in 1965. She studied at Falmouth School of Art, Supreme School of Art, Athens, and the Slade School of Art, London. She had a solo exhibition at Tate Britain in 2000. Currently she lives and works in Berlin. 

Paul Rogers Wax 1989

12 minutes. Collection: Lux 

Paul Rogers believes that film, with its 24 images per second, is a means of preserving the power in ‘some of the things that have collected me throughout my life/lives’. His film is a near-catalogue of bird-parts, drawings, texts and light-sources, which are given life by the process of projection. 


Paul Rogers was born in 1959. He studied at St Martins School of Art and Design, where he became a lecturer/technician. He was also a member of Loophole Cinema, a group working with multi-projection machinery, shadow-play, sound and bodily interventions, and co-organised the International Symposium of Shadows, held in London in 1996. He now lives and works in Australia. 

Eduardo Paolozzi History of Nothing 1963

12 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive 

‘The history of man can be written with objects,’ wrote Eduardo Paolozzi in one of hundreds of notes for History of Nothing in 1960. Like his paintings and sculptures of the time, the film draws on the influential collection of ‘Pop’ imagery assembled by Paolozzi during the 1950s, and shown as slides at meetings of the Independent Group of artists and designers. 


Sir Eduardo Paolozzi was born in Scotland in 1924. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, completed National Service, then studied at St Martins School of Art and Slade School of Art, London. He moved to Paris, then taught textile design at the Central School of Art, London. A founder member of The Independent Group 1952, his slide projections of found imagery Bunk could be described as the source book of Pop art. This magpie collection also found a natural outlet in animated films, of which Paolozzi made three with different collaborators.