Oskar Fishinger – Raumlichtkunst

Oskar Fishinger - Raumlichtkunst

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.

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.

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