I have fallen completely in love with these early experimental films from Thomas Edison's Black Maria Studio. The Black Maria is widely known as the first movie studio in history, though its New Jersey location was a far cry from the big lights of Hollywood.
The Serpentine Dance (above) was performed around 1895 by Loie Fuller, who was a former burlesque dancer from Chicago. The projection of colorful lights onto her silk wardrobe was her own technique, but was enhanced in post production at Edison studios. Interesting note: apparently the nitrate-based films were hand colored by the wives of Thomas Edison's own employees.
Below is Annabelle Whitford Moore -- one of the first silent sirens of the time -- and Crissie Sheridan, performing The Butterfly Dance. The fluid movements of these costumes combined with the decadent watercolor-color-like treatment of these films is mesmerizing. Simply beautiful.
Can't help but marvel at the fact that the first recorded films were a bit risque (for the time, at least). Could these surreal films really signal the birth of the dirty movie? Perhaps. Though I read a post that refers to them as "Victorian psychedelia," which seems more fitting. And also a ridiculous category some Pitchfork writer might coin to explain a new genre of artists.