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Antheil, George

Entry updated 18 November 2019. Tagged: Author.

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(1900-1959) US composer, performer and author, best known for the glaringly avant-garde Ballet Mécanique (1923-1924), originally conceived as a score for a nineteen-minute experimental film directed by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) and Dudley Murphy (1897-1968), but soon detached from that project and expanded. The rhetorical (and in some performances actually staged) transfiguration of human participants into Dadaist, surreally Robot-like Machines marked a high point in the faux early-twentieth-century chymical marriage between the Technology of art and a future whose apotheosis would be mechanical (see in particular Filippo Tommaso Marinetti). Antheil may now be more vividly remembered for inventing, in collaboration with the actor/inventor Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000), a spread-spectrum broadcast communication device to enable jam-proof radio guidance for torpedoes (a patent was granted them on 11 August 1942); as the device was never used until the deployment of a modified version in the early 1960s, this Invention may be properly regarded as futuristic.

Antheil is of direct sf interest for the anonymous The Shape of the War to Come (1940 chap), a short Future History of World War Two, climaxing in an Axis defeat in 1945 and the imprisonment of Adolf Hitler in a madhouse. [JC]

George Johann Carl Antheil

born Trenton, New Jersey: 8 July 1900

died New York: 12 February 1959

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