Oskar Fischinger 1900-1976 Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction edited by Cindy Keefer and Jaap Guldemond, Eye Filmmuseum and Center for Visual Music Amsterdam 2012
In the early 1970s, I wanted to make films as visual music. Theoretically music structure could be followed as a mean to compose a film, but it was not within the films that I was seeing at the time that I was seeing such ideas in practice. Searching for such films and filmmakers, I discovered at the same time some early avant-garde filmmakers, among them Oskar Fischinger. His films were a revelation and I realized that the visual music I was looking for was a different one.
The freedom of designs in motion within the pace of sound was amazing. It seemed that with Richter and Lye, Fischinger had opened new fields within the art of films. What surprised me at that time, were the potential and power of these white lines creating melodies and rhythms (remembering the atoms splitting in Studie nr. 8, or the white flashes in other later Studies) within the specificity of the apparatus. Treating lines as melody has been a constant in all his works, whether painting or films.
If within painting the motion is frozen or suspended, there are potential moments with further development to come as shown in Motion Painting no. 1. This emphasized a dimension of performativity which has been crystalized within the Lumigraph as much as in Motion Painting no. 1. Here the music of colors and lights is live, the recording of Motion Painting no. 1 induces delays while the performance works within the present of its making.
With the Lumigraph, Oskar Fischinger gave life to a live cinema. Lights become the instrument you play with, and with which Fischinger was able to create tri-dimensional effects within inward and outward movement spiralling toward the center of the screen (as done in his earlier film Spiralen) with films while the movement are often off centered and aligned along the diagonal within paintings. With Motion Painting no.1, and Quadrate (Squares), Fischinger articulated the two possibilities, one media dissolving or becoming another one; an early stage of this shift is encountered with the flip books.
The resolution of the movement and motion are done through a modulation of tensions according to melodic lines or dynamism of the beat for which repetition and variation are essential.
The pleasure to discover the multiple aspects of Oskar Fischinger’s works would not have been possible without William Moritz and Elfriede Fischinger. I can’t forget waking up after a long trip from New Zealand to LA and facing a stained glass of an Oskar Fischinger signet, hanging on the entrance door.