Center for Visual Music
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Film Notes - Statements - Correspondence
After world war 1 1918-1919 this movement to produce abstract films started. In 1919 Walter Ruttman made his first Opus 1. In Frankfurt Main I met him first in that same year and introduced to him a new process of making abstract film. It was a process invented through me in which all arts were combined to produce abstract film. On a 2 dimensional plane, plastic forms were build up and formed in a block of color wax - all kinds of forms and shapes and color were imbedded in such a block of wax forms like pyramides or kegels or fantastic shaped forms like spirals ect....after such a waxblock were finished squarely, [it] was put in a machine, which cutted fine thin slices of the surface of the block. After each slice was cut off, a motion picture camera placed before the machine photographed the surface of the waxplane. Then the next slice was cut off and again one frame was photographed with the camera....Imagine the beauty of a polished cut through a wonderful stone - like an Onix or Quarz [sic] formation or some of this wonderful patterns of ageable mineral or earths now imagine not only one cut but this same cut alive - somehow the camera records the cutting of the full stone from the beginning til to the end. The camera would so to speak wander through and through the stone, the wonderful pattern would grow.....Walter Ruttman whom I met when he showed his first Opus in 1919 and Febr. 1920 became so excited about this process that he asked me if he could purchase the right to use this process for his films. I agreed and developed ONE small machine for him and one for myself to cut and photograph such waxblocks. -- But due to the fact that neither Ruttman nor I myself had enough...the inflation and the lack of the necessities and the usual apathy of such people who could have supplied the necessities but did not understand the importance and significance of such artistic experiments made it necessary to stop this experiments entirely until such a time where the people understood better and are willing to support such experiments in a sufficient way. - Oskar Fischinger, excerpt from unpublished typescript, n.d.
Walking from Munich to Berlin
Walking from Munich to Berlin is such a sizeable challenge that anyone who undertakes it must have a very good reason. I was motivated mostly by a longing for freedom. I wanted to break ties that bound me, and I wanted to become healthy from this long hike at the same time that I broke all the ties binding me to Munich. I succeeded in walking over 1,000 km. [620 miles] to Berlin, taking the back roads, all on foot, with no trains or conveyances used. Daily I put long stretches of road behind me. I saw many beautiful landscapes, met friendly people, farmers and workers, and here and there Gypsies. I got along well with all of them, and we had good conversations. There is a lot less difference between people than is commonly supposed. I must say that people are the same everywhere. There are some differences, of course, but these stem primarily from character and temperament, and those same variations occur everywhere.
For an airplane, this is a laughable stretch, only about two and a half hours from Munich to Berlin. But it took me three and a half weeks, wandering as I did through hop-fields, over mountains, across the Danube, through forests and little villages, and again over mountains, from the heights of which everything looks so terribly tiny. - Oskar Fischinger, manuscript, n.d.
[about Studies 5 - 12] absolute graphic fims to music - soundfilm; produced in Berlin, Germany and distributed all over the world. To name the countries where these films were sold: Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal (South America - Argentina, Brasil, Uruguay, Chile) (North America - U.S.A., Canada), England, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Japan, and Czlechoslovakia. - Oskar Fischinger, from "Account of artistic creations," unpublished typescript, n.d.
These celluloid drawings are in fact the very first Non objective Film ever made in this technik. - Oskar Fischinger, from a letter to Hilla Rebay, July 1944
I am now starting to shoot the film. I have already done the first tests. It's going to be a very good work that presents something quite new in the field of optical rhythm. I have gained a whole series of new perceptions during this current work, and these perceptions will be expressed in this film: used and made effective. For example, color mixture, color mutation in rhythmic exchange of color fluctuations on the motion-picture screen, such as is only possible because of the quick image-exchange rate of 24 frames per second. Through this film will be opened, among other things, a wholly new view of the field of color science. The Static, the passive observations of former color science, will be superseded by the Dynamic. This step corresponds to penetrating from the surface into the depths. The clever part lies in fast color change, in the vibration of colors which results in rhythmic life that is accessible through dynamic, climactic gradation. The psychological effect throughout is pleasurable. Concerning the interesting particulars of the temporal intermittence of color mix (one after another) in contrast to the spatial juxtaposition of color mix (side by side at the same time), one could now write a very interesting piece. However, the film must be finished first! - Oskar Fischinger, from a letter to Hilla Rebay, August 18, 1940
Motion Painting No. 1
A. Prying loose from the Darkness of non-existing infinite possibilities little works of art. - Oskar Fischinger, 1950, describing MP No. 1 in a letter to Margareta Akermark.
B. All my earlier experiments and studies since 1919 lead up to the technique developed in Motion Painting No. 1. The earliest studies of color films found their conclusion in this work which presents in itself an art form of great significance for the future development of motion picture films.
Motion Painting No. 1 draws its importance from the fact that it records the natural, logical growth of a visual form of art which, without any concession, develops its own possibilities. The unknown, unlimited and unborn possibilities of a creative mind, through this technique developed in Motion Painting No. 1, finds its natural, clear way to let the visual expressions flow without any restrictions or chains and reveal the secrets and beauty of art in its purest and most direct way. - Oskar Fischinger, excerpt from unpublished typescript, c. 1950
C. ..."Motion Painting Nr. 1" presents in itself a new Artform of great significants, [sic] and enters the Realm of true creativeness in motion in the field of visual expression, changing transmuteing Paintings from a static unmoveable almost frozen formation into painted-created-moving-unfolding developing-music like visual presentation in time - step after step, in such a way, that the time elements adds a most important Quality or Dimension to it. And this is an entirely new kind of music. Music not created by sounds which follow each other in time unfolding the creative Idea feeling or production of a composer, but a music of an essential visual Motion-Painting natur, - resulting from a true creative unfoldment development step by step of a painted visual production of a motion-painter...
The Motion Picture Camera as a Ideal visual recording instrument made in possible in our time, to discover the hidden element of the music-like quality which goes with or is produced by paintings in motion - if they are of a creative nature. The factor of unfoldment of logical growth seems to cary - to produce this music-like almost pleasurable sensation in the observers. - Oskar Fischinger, from unpublished typescript, c. 1949
D. This music, concerto by Bach, is like a smooth river flowing on the side of open fields -
And what you see - is not translated music, because music doesn't need to be translated on the screen - to the Eyes music is in itself enough - but the optical part is like we walk on the side of the river - sometimes we go a little bit farther off (away) but we come back and go along on this river, the concerto by Bach.
The optical part is no perfect synchronization of every wave of the river - it is a very free walk, nothing is forced, nothing is synchronized except in great steps.
The film is in some parts perfectly synchronized with the music, but in other parts it runs free - without caring much about the music - it is like a pleasant walk on the side of a river - If the river springs, we on the side do not necessarily spring to it - but go our own free way - sometimes we even go a little bit away from the river and later come back to it and love it so much more - because we were away from it. Sometimes we go up a little while while on the side of the river and the river goes low through a tunnel or under a bridge but we are all the time with the river near the river we hear the sound of the river and we love it and the river is the music of Bach. And what we see are the fields
The optical thought the optical dance to the sound of the river of your soul The flowers of a mind The dance of handwriting and the song of flowers and the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky - Sometimes it is dark and you see in the darkness nothing but your own feeling your own movements your own pulse and the rapture of your heart your blood this is what you see - what goes with the music - The Stars the Heaven the Darkness and the Light of your own love your own heart The Light of your mind, The Dancing Light of your blood - and your feeling
From Fischinger's writings about Motion Painting No. 1, found on 8 narrow strips of paper, n.d.
Plans for unfinished film:
A. Stereo or Space Motion Painting
Out of my recent Stereoscopic Paintings and out of my recent film "Motion Painting Number One", the necessity for combining both creative efforts into one new "Stereo-Motion Painting" presents itself to me.
The technique developed in "Motion Painting Number One" will be combined with the deep-space creation developed in the Stereo Paintings, with the idea in mind of bringing this new creation to the largest possible number of people at present and in the future. To bring them to a closer participation, understanding and love toward Art.
...In a Stereoscopic presentation (which does not eliminate a non-stereoscopic presentation) the almost fantastic precision and space reality brings about a completely new field of Art expression into existence. Future Artists will have a new field of expression. Space itself frees them from the two dimensions of their present day canvases. There is a new infinity without limitations given to use through Space Paintings in Motion and color and sound. - Oskar Fischinger, unpublished typescript, n.d.
Manuscripts, correspondence and typescripts are from the collection of and (c) Center for Visual Music, gift of The Fischinger Trust.
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