Saul Bass: The Origins of the Vertiginous Forms in Vertigo
I was browsing through the remainder bin in a Third Avenue bookshop. I leafed through a book and was stunned by some beautiful images. They were by Lissajous, a French mathematician of the late 1800s.
From a Swiss scientist’s later description of these images and how they were made, I was able to reconstruct a device used by Lissajous to create them. It consisted of a recording pendulum with an attached and smaller free-swinging eccentric pendulum which introduced variables into the motion of the recording pendulum. The recording device was a tiny brush with an ink reservoir and a stop cock regulator. Very tricky to operate. But when it worked the images were extraordinary. Watching them grow as the pendulum swung, not knowing what their final form would be, was a magical experience. I made a batch. Sat on them for years. And then Hitchcock asked me to work on “Vertigo.” Click!
I did not invent them, they had already existed, but were not fully recognized for their aesthetic potential since they were mainly seen as scientific expressions. You could say I was obsessed with them for a while — that I had fallen in love with them — so I knew what Hitch was driving at. [x]