Oskar Fischinger Raumlichtkunst (c. 1926/2012)

Images: courtesy Center for Visual Music

Three-projector HD reconstruction by the Center for Visual Music 2012 on at the Govett-Brewster

Space, light, music: A dizzying 3 screen projection of moving-image works by Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967). Unfortunately, I have been asked to remove the video so you have to take my word for it but the accompanying sound brings the works to life. It is not the original composition and in this "re-creation, the Center for Visual Music chose to use Varese's Ionisation and two versions of Double Music by John Cage and Lou Harrison" [source] – perfect! On till the 6th of August at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

In 1926, abstract filmmaker Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) began performing multiple projector cinema shows in Germany with up to five 35mm film projectors, colour 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’ (space-light-art) 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. [source]

[image: book cover of Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstractionby Cindy Keefer(Editor), Jaap Gu(Editor) Publisher: EYE Filmmuseum and Center for Visual Music; 1st edition April 1, 2013]


Spectacle, Speculation, Spam

a conversation between theory and practice (and lots more) by Alan Warburton:

"A presentation I made for the Edge of Frame Weekend seminar at The Whitechapel gallery in East London, December 2016. Artists, curators and academics were asked to explore where experimental animation practice sits in relation to independent animation, visual art, histories and institutions. Rather than presenting papers, we were challenged to cite up to three works that illustrated our case."

[vimeo 194963450 w=640 h=360] <p><a href="">Spectacle, Speculation, Spam</a> from <a href="">Alan Warburton</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Invisible Images

(Your Pictures Are Looking at You)


We need to learn how to see a parallel universe composed of activations, keypoints, eigenfaces, feature transforms, classifiers, training sets, and the like. But it’s not just as simple as learning a different vocabulary. Formal concepts contain epistemological assumptions, which in turn have ethical consequences. The theoretical concepts we use to analyze visual culture are profoundly misleading when applied to the machinic landscape, producing distortions, vast blind spots, and wild misinterpretations.

We no longer look at images–images look at us. They no longer simply represent things, but actively intervene in everyday life. We must begin to understand these changes if we are to challenge the exceptional forms of power flowing through the invisible visual culture that we find ourselves enmeshed within.


(Research Image) “Disgust” Custom Hito Steyerl Emotion Training Set

Gestures of coincidence:

Some earlier experiements with facial detection results 1/2 : more happy than disgusted – from the corrupted self series according to api

Hito Steyerl and me displaying outward emotional expressions of disgust 

My level of disgust seems to be far less than Hito's ability to display displeasure.

Matt Mullican: Beyond the Planetarium

    • "I went from being surrounded by things—dealing with how we name them and how we experience our environment through naming—to the opposite end of the spectrum: starting with nothing, then calling the objects into being."

—Matt Mullican, "Planetarium"

Planetarium: Matt Mullican

A digital project, part of And Yet It Moves

  • Matt Mullican was born in 1951 and currently resides in Berlin. Working in performance, installation, digital technology, and sculpture, and employing tools ranging from hypnosis to cartography, Mullican seeks to develop a cosmological system based on his personal visual and symbolic vocabulary. His work has been exhibited extensively in the US and internationally.
"Planetarium" was commissioned by Triple Canopy as part of its  Internet as Material &nbsp;project area, supported in part by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston.&nbsp;Tags:&nbsp; Artist Project &nbsp;|&nbsp; Technology

"Planetarium" was commissioned by Triple Canopy as part of its Internet as Material project area, supported in part by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston. Tags: Artist Project | Technology

Benjamin Tiven and Triple Canopy

Tiven_M_Daniel-arap-Moi [image] Benjamin Tiven, Daniel arap Moi at a Public Presentation, Unknown Date, 2013, inkjet print 20" × 25".

Pixels, root properties, illusions, patterns, grids and cities

Michael Cowan, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University and Benjamin Tiven, artist and contributor to the online magazine Triple Canopy, engage in a fascinating conversation, titled How we see in which they discuss the role of the brain in the understanding of the sensory world. The conversation revolves around issues that relate to our visual systems and the role of consciousness, evolution, experiential and scientific influences in shaping a visual understanding.

The interview is part of Common Minds, a series of essays which investigate the intricacies of the brain and the growth of neuroscience in contemporary society and science. Interestingly, Tiven titles this interview as a collaborative work and not an interview. This approach highlights the multiple roles that artists, such as Tiven, engage in and that any discourse is as valid a piece of art work as any painting, photograph, sculpture or digital creation. Below is a short extract from that conversation:

Our monitoring of the world is really much less continuous and accurate than we think it is. Experience is the conversion of energy into data. The project of all life is to correlate the interpretation with the energy source, since the better your ability to interpret reality, the more likely you are to survive and pass on your genes. Now, how close or causal is the relationship between the energy we experience and our interpretation of it—that's a different question. In fact, something like illusion or magic is based on a discrepancy between the information we're taking in and our interpretation. (Tarr, 2013 para 15)

Corrupted imagery and heads of state

Benjamin Tiven's approach to his art work is collaborative in nature and investigative in style. He deals with the longevity of images and the cross pollination of data from its analog forms into the digitised world as a need for survival. These manifest themselves as conversations that revolve around the issues of existence, memory and the way that stories are told. In A Third Version of the Imaginary, Tiven researches the archived footage, buried in the depths of the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation, and the events surrounding the 1973 Kenyan Independence Day parade. He brings the archived footage back to life through a series of interviews and conversations which corroborate the grainy, choppy footage from a technological past.


Employing the internet, through Triple Canopy, as a platform for the reinterpretation of these occurrences, the ‘conversations’ express themselves as investigative journalism which delve deeper into the politics of regimes past, the power of political imagery and the data that forms these events. Tiven describes an aspect of his work as the "increasing interchangeability between objects and data" and in one of these conversations with Brian Larkin, Larkin describes that a “breakdown shouldn’t be seen as the absence of something, but rather as the groundwork for something else coming into existence” (Larkin, 2014). This view exemplifies what Tiven’s work is about; that all things have data, past, present and future and in the retrieval and archiving of these events, new occurrences happen.

The digital space can now act as the repository of our actions. The increased capacity of storage through micro technologies and cloud depositories has expanded the realm of knowledge and the capacity for the instantaneous retrieval of information. The explosion of on-line magazines, blogs and social media sites has spurned an environment where all our experiences can be recorded and archived. This ever expanding environment can also be seen as the collective memory of our times.

But one day, these digital spaces might mirror the dusty archival rooms of past regimes, which means that the decoding of our digital past will require new technologies and new visionaries to retrieve them from their slumber. So, who will be responsible for the reinterpretation of these memories? Who will re-mix, loop, splice, cut and paste new story lines in an effort to uncover the deeper connections that occurred in the posting of our existence? As the digital space increasingly becomes controlled and commodified will it be the artist, the writer, the scientist or will we relinquish that responsibility to the powers that govern us? And will these interpretations represent the truth?


Tarr, M. & Tiven, B. (2013). How we see. Retrieved from:

Larkin, B., Nyong’o, T. & Tiven, M. (2014). Everyday static transmissions. Retrieved from:

Simon Starling – In Speculum at City Gallery, Wellington

projectformasquerade_2 [image] Simon Starling, Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima) 2010. Courtesy Casey Kaplan, New York.

There is no denying Simon Starling’s ability to tell a story; his works evoke the image of the pseudo-scientist raconteur, tweed jacket and all, explaining his latest inventions and in true Umberto Eco fashion, Starling is able to weave the most delicate of threads to present his audience with a narrative which is intricately connected, ingeniously assembled, carefully constructed and meticulously presented. There is a theatrical stage-like quality to his installations and as you approach from the foyer of the City Gallery, you are immediately asked to make some decisions in terms of where to start. There are no way-finding devices or clever prompts to guide you, and as you enter either one of the assigned ‘rooms’ you step into the magical world of Starling’s research and investigations, metaphors and symbols, double meanings and multiplicities.

His installations are traditional in the sculptural sense, three dimensional objects in the round but at times Starling steps into the role of film maker and director where the moving image is used as a technique to explain the genesis behind some of the works. These films become art works in themselves and they accompany the objects presented where they interconnect seamlessly within the larger story adding another layer to the complex narratives within Starling’s work. Film or video installations often can be a contentious medium for a gallery setting, but Starling’s ability to hold his audience through the use of the narrator’s voice, which acts as an authoritative link similar to a David Attenborough voiceover, connects the documentary with the narrative, the scientific with the fantasy, and teases his audience into his works through the universal bond of voice and language.

As you move from room to room, Starling takes you deeper and deeper into his research as the meaning behind each installation reveals itself. Meandering through each of the rooms you find yourself in a loop where you must then track back, experiencing the works again, from a different angle or in reverse. This technique sets-up an interaction with the viewer which suggests that the story has not concluded or that there may be deeper meanings to be considered. Starling develops a relationship between his audience and his works which establishes an ongoing dialogue, opens up a discourse and initiates pathways for new discoveries. The convention for artists is to allow an audience to interpret their creations through the viewers own experience but Starling’s approach is the reverse, he presents his audience with his research and exposes the thinking behind his works with evidence which support his theories and allows for further investigations into his recurring themes which are evident throughout all of Starling’s works.

In Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima) Starling presents his audience with a theatrical proposition whereby the characters step out from the stage and become participants in the audiences’ experience. A room or chamber sets the scene as you approach. Two solitary figures face each other. They occupy the space which acts as an anti-chamber, a sacred entrance from which the haunting sounds of the Japanese noh-kan, a bamboo flute used in hayashi-kata (instrumental arrangements for Noh plays), is over-laid with the voice of a narrator which is audible in the adjoining room. These figures are minimalist in structure, iron skeletal framed tripods which stand in perfect counterpoise. Polished amorphous wooden objects attached to elongated necks act as heads. They resemble masks and the negative spaces stare at you ominously. These sentinels dare the viewer to pass by them, watched, and to witness the rites occurring in the sacrificial chamber.

Upon entering the chamber, the glow of the screen fills a large room and you are quickly consumed by the voice, the repetitive motions of a wood carver’s hands (depending at which point you joined in of course) and the “fictional story [of] Eboshi-ori, the 16th century Japanese tale of a noble boy” (Leonard, 2014, p. 37) begins to unfold itself. The film goes on to tell the story behind the tale itself and it introduces us to the characters, the premise for the play and as a result the history behind the sentinel masks you first encountered in the anti-chamber is revealed. Through watching the film you discover the weave that Starling has created and his ability to allude to the interconnected world of stories, experiences, political events, entertainers, science, theater and craft is manifested through the making of the masks. Starling’s work contains a variety of parallel themes running in conjunction and although the subject matters portrayed are of a catastrophic world changing historical event, his whimsical approach to the re-telling of the Noh story is eased on to us through the most unlikely cast of characters assembled, including James Bond, Colonel Saunders, Enrico Fermi, Anthony Blunt, Joseph Hirschhorn, and Henry Moore’s (who also has a dual role) Nuclear Energy/Atom Piece disguised as Ushiwaka (Leonard, p. 40). They all take part to portray a fictional cold war trial involving multiple identities, espionage, deceit and the exploits of science, art and commerce in the evolution of the atom bomb, and, all of this told through the lens of the Polish American street gang, Chicago’s the Back of the Yards Boys who act as the film makers.

These complex story lines are typical of Starlings’ works which are anchored in his concerns for the future of humanity and he expresses these ideologies through the reinterpretation of historical and scientific moments in time; yet what intrigues me most in Starling’s work is his ability to meld the audiences senses’ into a gallery experience; not only through the scope of his topics but also through his ability to play with the layers of cognitive intuition and interpretation through the intersection and cross-over of human perception and consciousness.

Sight and intellect play the major roles in this theatrical experience and the visual experience is stimulated in a varying of perceptible ways in varying dimensions. The written descriptions and the exhibition catalogue act as companions to the pieces and allow the audience to participate in the experience through a deeper understanding but sound acts as the conduit to reason and throughout this exhibition sound is evident everywhere. Not every piece is activated through sound but as a result of proximity there is always some sort of reverberation present. Whether it’s the whir of the bespoke film projector, the clanking of metal, the voice of the narrator, the hum of the projectors fan, the haunting sounds of distant cultures or the resonance of the machines that define their makers, their rhythmic patterns are always present. These incessantly audible sounds entice the viewer further into each of Starling’s pieces. They act as navigational devices which prompt the audience to inquisitively explore further; they assist the audience in accessing the same connections that Starling uses in the making of his works, in a similar way to that youthful exuberance of someone calling out to you from deep within the forest, beckoning you to come and see what they have found and wanting to share in the thrill of their discoveries. Yet another layer in Starling’s repertoire of emotional threads where truth and fiction come together to spin another tale of wonderment and disbelief.

Reference Leonard, R. (2013). Please explain. In Simon Starling: In Speculum [Exhibition Catalogue] (pp. 23-51). Wellington, New Zealand: City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi.

Cover image: Simon Starling 2010. Still from Project For A Masquerade (Hiroshima),16 mm film transferred to HD. Duration: 25:54 minutes. Retrieved from: