Oskar Fischinger: Raumlichtkunst
HD Reconstruction by Center for Visual Music
In 1926, Fischinger and Hungarian Composer Alexander László began to perform multimedia shows in Germany with Fischinger's abstract films, projected colored lights, music and painted slides. After their brief partnership ended that year, Fischinger performed his own shows titled Fieber (Fever), Vakuum (Vacuum), and Macht (Power). From texts and press, we now understand these shows as his attempts to create some of the very first cinematic immersive environments. Fischinger produced several different versions of these multiple projector shows in the late 1920s, under the series name Raumlichtkunst, using up to five 35mm film projectors, color filters to create light effects, slides, and reels of his black and white, tinted and hand-painted abstract films.
Raumlichtkunst has been reconstructed as a three-projector HD black box installation, in an edition of five. It was recently exhibited at the Whitney Museum, New York (twice); Tate Modern, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Len Lye Centre, New Zealand and in Hamburg and Brisbane. The exhibition at Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco is its West Coast Premiere.
Working with reels of Fischinger's original 1920s nitrate film, Center for Visual Music (CVM) restored the 35mm film by photochemical processes. CVM then transferred the new preservation materials to high definition video, digitally restored and added color, and in 2012 produced this three-screen reconstruction of his c. 1926–27 performances. The reconstruction does not attempt to represent any one specific performance, rather the concept and effect of Fischinger's series of shows. Raumlichtkunst is presented as three continual loops, offset, unfolding constantly varying combinations. No documentation exists of the original music used, other than reports of avant-garde percussive accompaniment. For the current installations CVM chose to use Varèse's Ionisation and two versions of Double Music by John Cage and Lou Harrison, partly due to Fischinger and Cage's discussions about Cage providing the soundtrack for a Fischinger film (a project encouraged in the 1940s by Hilla Rebay of the Guggenheim Foundation, though never realized).