Man Ray was an avant-garde part artist who was part of the Dada movement. He invented the Rayograph technique, which involved putting objects on photographic paper and exposing them to light, thereby creating ghostly photographic images without using a camera. He realized he could create a film using this technique.
Ron Bork, Concordia's current Dean of Education, recalled a similar project he did as Marxhausen's student:
The film project involved having a section of 16mm leader film and drawing shapes on it with magic markers. We knew how much space was allotted per second and how close we could put the shapes together so they would project onto the screen in some kind of moving fashion.
Could Marxhausen have drawn inspiration from Man Ray for this class project? You could get a much better feel for Marxhausen's class' film might have looked liked by watching Man Ray's wild film, which caused a fight to break out in the audience. This film was shown in PBS's program, American Masters: The Artists. A DVD copy is available in Link Library.
Another influential artist featured in that series, Robert Rauscherberg, could be compared to Marxhausen. Both used found objects to assemble sculptures. See Marxhausen's Lent sculptures and lint pieces.
I also found the aforementioned Man Ray film on YouTube. Not every section uses his Rayograph technique. You can tell which ones I think may have inspired the Marxhausen class project because they are very jagged, you can make out objects like nails and tacks, and it sometimes looks like snow on a TV screen. Warning: this video may give you a headache, and the last clip shows the effect of light on a nude torso.