(Edited by) Cindy Keefer, Jaap Gu – Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction


EYE Film Institute Netherlands, ISBN-13: 978-9071338007, English, 240 pages, 2013, The Netherlands

Oskar Fischinger has long been a pivotal figure in “visual music,” surely a pioneer, well ahead of his time. Acknowledged as an “experimental animator and filmmaker,” he innovated with the most genuine and obsessed “hacker” (or “maker”) spirit, impressively creating from scratch and building the tools he needed to realise his experiments. In a classic pre-war trajectory, from the 20s and 30s in Berlin to the 40s and 50s in Hollywood, he developed his practice in remarkable ways. He stated, for example, that the “eye and ear supplement each other in orthogonal function,” as the eye seizes the “external,” while the ear seizes the “internal.” Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction is a very accurate monograph (more than a catalogue) accompanying his major exhibition at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, coherently and scientifically reconstructing Fischinger’s life and work from the scarce available materials. His whole career flows through these pages, introducing the reader historically, technically and personally to his visions of a “Synthetic Sound Machine,” to his multiple projector cinema performances (a cinematic immersive environment, preceding in time expanded cinema), and to the “Lumigraph,” an early analogue real-time interactive instrument for performances, with which he performed in the 1950s. With plenty of original documents, reproductions, photographs, timelines, and screenshots, this is an excellent publication, which should be read cover to cover by students before they launch any piece of visualisation software for the first time.


Kreise (excerpt) by Oskar Fischinger


Composition in Blue (excerpt) by Oskar Fischinger