Discovering Texture (1961)

Explores the concept of texture in our environment and how it is perceived through our senses, particularly touch and sight. The film describes texture as the surface quality of objects, which can range from smooth to rough, shiny to bumpy, or any variation in between. It emphasizes that every surface, including the Earth and living things on it, has its own unique texture.

Texture is intricately linked to light, as different textures reflect light in varying ways. Rough textures reflect light unevenly, creating shadows, while matte textures reflect soft, even light. Smooth textures and shiny surfaces, which reflect a significant amount of light, create highlights. These characteristics determine whether a texture appears shiny, coarse, smooth, rough, rocky, bumpy, or fuzzy.

The film also delves into the aesthetic appreciation of natural textures and the creative manipulation of textures by humans. It illustrates how humans use tools and materials to alter textures for aesthetic purposes, such as sanding to smooth a surface or polishing to make it shiny. It also covers the creation of textures in art, using various materials like clay, paint, crayons, and ink, and techniques such as stippling, dragging, and layering to achieve different textures.

Furthermore, the film discusses the role of photography in capturing and exploring textures, from distant ones like the moon’s surface to overlooked everyday textures. It highlights the contrast and harmony of textures in nature, art, architecture, clothing, and home design, showcasing how textures are both naturally occurring and meticulously organized by humans for visual and tactile appeal.

The film concludes by emphasizing that discovering and enjoying textures is a daily adventure, inviting viewers to appreciate the myriad of textures around them, whether natural, man-made, felt, seen, or created.

We digitized and uploaded this film from the A/V Geeks 16mm Archive. Email us at if you have questions about the footage and are interested in using it in your project.

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