Installation View at Whitney Museum, New York
Raumlichtkunst (c. 1926/2012)
Three-projector HD reconstruction by Center for Visual Music
"Dazzling...an exhilarating phantasmagoria of abstraction and metaphor" - New York Times
Artforum's Best of 2012, Top 10 List by J. Hoberman
"A hallucinatory mind-blower" - Time Out New York
Installation View at Whitney Museum, New York
Whitney Museum, New York - October 28, 2016 - February 5, 2017
in Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016. Press Release (PDF)
Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Opens April 9, 2017
October 2014 - May 24, 2015 - QAG/GOMA, Brisbane, Australia
Palais de Tokyo, Paris, June to September, 2013
in the exhibition La Fin de la Nuit
Tate Modern, London - June 2012 to March 2013
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York - June 28 to October 28, 2012
eflux from 2012 Whitney exhibition
artforum, Sept. 25, 2012: Three's Company, by Suzanne Buchan
New York Times (Ken Johnson), July 26, 2012: The Lines and Shapes of a Mystical Stenography
Time Out New York, July: Oskar Fischinger: Space Light Art - A Film Environment
(more press links at bottom of page, including Roberta Smith, NY Times)
Installation shot at Tate Modern, 2012, (c) CVM
In 1926, abstract filmmaker Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) began performing multiple projector cinema shows in Germany with up to five 35mm film projectors, color filters and slides. Fischinger wrote of his concept of Raumlichtmusik (space-light-music), believing all the arts would merge in this new art. The critics called his performances "Raumlichtkunst" and praised Fischinger's “original art vision which can only be expressed through film.” These shows represent some of the earliest attempts at cinematic immersive environments, and are a precursor to expanded cinema and 1960's light shows.
Under the concept name of "Raumlichtkunst," Fischinger performed several different versions of these multiple projector shows in the late 1920s, some of which were called Fieber and Macht (Power). Biographer William Moritz speculated that another name used may have been R-1 ein Formspiel, though no reviews or documentation exist of this name. Our re-creation does not strive to represent any one specific performance, rather the concept and effect of Fischinger's series of shows.
Working with Fischinger's original 1920s nitrate film, Center for Visual Music restored the 35mm film via traditional photochemical processes, transferred to HD, digitally restored the color, and reconstructed this 3 screen recreation of his c. 1926 - 27 performances.The 3 screen installation is projected in High Definition video. No documentation exists of the original music used, other than reports of "various percussive" accompaniment. For this re-creation we have chosen to use Varese's Ionisation and two versions of Double Music by John Cage and Lou Harrison.
Long before he became an American, Fischinger was part of the international avant-garde of modernism's most radical phase. Oskar's early abstract experiments push aside narrative and reduce cinema to pure plane, scale, motion and color. Because of his highly accessible later work, especially from Radio Dynamics onward, and because of the musical dimension, he is generally regarded as a colorist/lyrical film-maker. But the early experiments including Raumlichtkunst are much more formalist and invested in the specificity of the medium. They are closer to Malevich, the suprematists and the futurists in intent - all in search of the absolute in painting and in cinema.
(text by CVM, 2012)
See below for credits, press, essays, links and further information
More installation shots
Curator/archivist Cindy Keefer has given illustrated talks about Raumlichtkunst and Fischinger in London, Linz, Brisbane, Hamburg, Oberhausen and other cities.
Contact us at cvmaccess (at) gmail.com
Installation Shot at Tate Modern, London (c) Center for Visual Music
Contact Center for Visual Music - cvmaccess (at) gmail (dot) com or call (213-683-1514)
Curator/Archivist: Cindy Keefer
Music Consultant: Richard H. Brown
Film restoration supported by an Avant-Garde Masters Grant, funded by The Film Foundation,
administered by The National Film Preservation Foundation
Thanks to: Barbara Fischinger, The Fischinger Trust, Cinemaculture, The Film Foundation, The NFPF, William Moritz, Chrissie Iles, Stuart Comer and Xarene Eskander. Additional thanks to Goethe Institut Paris, Joshua Harrell, and Media City (Ontario).
Film restoration done at Film Technology Co., Inc., Hollywood. HD post-production and color by Technicolor. Thanks to Opticus for L.A. HD projection tests.
Images (c) Center for Visual Music, 2012-16
thanks to cinemaculture
RECENT PRESS and Bibliography
2016. Roberta Smith, New York Times. Diving into Movie Palaces of the Mind at the Whitney. December 1
2016. Andrew Uroskie, 4Columns. Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art. December 2
2014. The Sublime and Cultural Difference by Kathryn Weir on QAG/Goma blog (Brisbane), 30 September.
2013. Keefer, Cindy. Oskar Fischinger's Raumlichtkunst. In Keefer, Cindy and J Guldemond, eds., Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction. Amsterdam and Los Angeles: EYE Filmmuseum and Center for Visual Music, 2013.
2013. Vertical Cinema, Kontraste Cahier #3. Edited by Mirna Belina and Sonic Acts. Amsterdam: Sonic Acts Press.
December 2012: Artforum, Best of 2012, Top 10 List by J. Hoberman (NOTE: Incorrect credit)
November, Art in America, Reviews, New York: Oskar Fischinger at Whitney
Sept. 25, 2012: Artforum, Three's Company, by Suzanne Buchan
September: SPIKE Art Quarterly (Austria) - "Oskar Fischinger" by Fionne Meade. On cargocollective.com
August 28. Time Out New York Review, by Joseph Wolin
August 22. Man Out of Time, Moving Image Source (online) by Gregory Zinman
July 26, 2012. New York Times The Lines and Shapes of a Mystical Stenography by Ken Johnson
July 25, 2012. Movie Journal, by J. Hoberman. Oskar Fischinger's Film of the Future, 1926. Artinfo online.
July 14. Oskar Fischinger's Raumlichtkunst. Michael Sporn, Animation Splog
July, 2012. The New Yorker. Oskar Fischinger: Space Light Art - A Film Environment
May, 2012: Artlog magazine - A Multimedia Pioneer at The Whitney
April 26, 2012: Unframed, LACMA Blog
Keefer, Cindy. 'Raumlichtmusik' - Early 20th Century Abstract Cinema Immersive Environments. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Creative Data Special Issue. Leonardo: The International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology, and MIT Press. October 2009. PDF.
2009 Press about CVM's preservation project, online at Animation World Network
Keefer, Cindy. "Space Light Art" - Early Abstract Cinema and Multimedia, 1900-1959. White Noise. Ernest Edmonds and Mike Stubbs, Eds. Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2005. Ex. Cat.
Moritz, William. Optical Poetry: The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger. John Libbey Publishing, 2004, pp. 11-16, 202-204.
CVM's Fischinger Research Pages
Center for Visual Music
Oskar Fischinger: Ten Films DVD order page
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact CVM at cvmaccess (at) gmail dot com, or 213-683-1514
Images (c) Center for Visual Music, 2012-2016, all rights reserved. Please seek permission to reproduce or distribute