Mobile Painting: Art’s Newest Expression (1922)

Clavilux

Attempts have been made to coordinate color and music color and music, but thus without encouraging results. The color-organ, or Clavilux, invented by Mr. Thomas Wilfred, and presented recently in New York at the Neighborhood Playhouse, differs from these experiments, despite its name, in that its compositions are played in silence and depend for their effect entirely upon a combination of color, form and movement.

The color is produced by refracted light, which is projected upon either a plaster wall or a ground glass screen in luminous, mobile patterns. These patterns or images are capable of extraordinary transformations in all their elements whether of color, form or movement, independently of each other and in varying tempo.

It is difficult to realize precisely what this amazing range in visible effects means; especially when we consider that few natural phenomena change in all their visible elements at the same time. Sunsets come nearest, perhaps, to such simultaneous changes of color, form and movement; but the comparison does little justice to the ordered and significant arrangements possible by means of the Clavilux. It is, in fact, a peculiar characteristic of these images that they cannot well be compared to anything; and while this adds to the difficulties of describing them or philosophizing about their aesthetic possibilities, it unquestionably accounts, in some measure, for their strangely stimulating and imaginative quality.

The performances of the Clavilux were given not only without any musical accompaniment, but in total darkness. This increased the intensity of the experience and permitted the faintest hues and gradations to become apparent. Mysterious effects were indeed often achieved by very subtle and barely perceptible hues which emerged from the surrounding black in vague masses, changing gradually into deeper tones and more clearly defined shapes until they achieved distinct forms in brilliantly luminous colors which now moved in new rhythms, changed into other forms or faded and disappeared again.

Sometimes a form would arise, ascend slowly and then remain poised while new forms would come into being and revolve in front of the first figure, with very remarkable effects of depth and perspective, while, at the same time, the figures remained always transparent. The most complicated configurations seemed to be achieved with the same facility as the simplest, so that the compositions had a kind of magical continuity, one figure flowing imperceptibly into another, precisely as one color became transformed into another, without any apparent breaks or changes. The emotional intensity with which these images affect us is striking; they stimulate the imagination, and hold us fascinated and entranced throughout.

At times the basic themes or designs upon which the compositions are built seem merely abstract conceptions, often very beautiful in form and movement; at other times they seem to be definite symbolic shapes. The colors, being produced by refracted light instead of by pigment, are luminous and thus heighten the abstract effect.

Clavilux

In consequence, the mobile designs become suggestive in strange ways of many beautiful phenomena, either because of a similarity of color effect or, more often, because of a similarity of rhythm and movement in the basic forms. Thus we may have fleeting visions, or rather fleeting recollections, of an eclipse, a comet, visions of icebergs or again of great fires, beautiful changes, as of chemicals reacting upon each other; ethereal effects of swaying, gossamer, cloud-like forms: of motions that remind us of elemental things—of breathing, of the rise and fall of geysers, or of fountains, of the flowing of water, or the dissipation of smoke, of dancing figures, of revolving flower-like forms, turning slowly, of clouds fading and disappearing.

Throughout all these varying transformations the images have a tremulous vibrating character that animates their forms and adds to the dynamic nature of our inner reactions. The figures in their evolving movements are not necessarily suggestive of definite natural phenomena, but often give very vivid impressions of abstract or generic movements, as reaching, sinking, fading, rising movements that might indicate release, grasp, dissolution, involution, evolution, enveloping, revealing, turning, winding, seeking, floating—innumerable fundamental movements which impart amazing fascination to the mobile designs as they develop before us.

This general terms are both vague and abrupt compared to the actual compositions they are intended to interpret. Nevertheless, it will be seen from even this brief and random description that the Clavilux is capable of an infinite range of variation, to a degree which pigment and canvas could not possible attain in the expression of motion with its inevitable echo in our emotions. For, at best, painting is a static result and however unbalanced the masses in a painting may be in order to suggest motion, the picture remains fixed at precisely one moment of an extended action.

The progression possible by means of moving pictures has, of course, completely effaced this difficulty. But moving pictures have been concerned, thus far at any rate, with a literal apprehension of things, so that, in effect, they have merely tended to complete the work of the camera by overcoming the static nature of a single picture. In consequence, moving pictures are more literal even than photographs, and, generally speaking, more lacking in aesthetic qualities.

The Clavilux, while it possesses in perhaps even more perfect degree the quality of movement that characterizes the cinema, promises to develop in a diametrically opposite direction; so that in place of literal representation we will have abstract forms of a symbolic nature, or equally abstract forms unqualified by any derivative or superimposed significance.

In art it is unquestionably true that where most is sacrificed, most is gained. The cinema, which sacrifices nothing of external similitude, has gained precisely nothing, and has revealed nothing. It is not yet an art. The Clavilux is a language as abstract as music, and its effects promise to be as overwhelmingly rich and satisfying to mankind.

The progression which we see upon a motion picture screen is the literal representation of actual movement. The progression which the Clavilux reveals is the visual realization of emotions. This will seem more inteligible of we consider music to be the oral realization or oral interpretation of inner feelings. In this sense the compositions of the Clavilux are more nearly related to music than to any other art—but this does not imply any relationship between color and sound.

Clavilux

The Clavilux is comparable to music because of the intensity, power and range of its emotional effects; mainly, however, because its images appeal to our feelings with the strange and compelling immediacy of a direct language, requiring no mental translation to become emotionally intelligible.

Modernism in painting has largely concerned itself with achieving this result. Despite its innumerable schools, painting has always been representational. It remained for Expressionism to conceive of painting in a wholly new manner which sought not only to escape from the imitation, in pigment, of visible things, irrespective of the ulterior significance to be derived from them, but which essayed the far more difficult problem of directly expressing inward states, moods, or emotional reactions.

In a very general way, it may be permissible to say that while painting has been able to express itself only through an interpretation of the appearance of things, music has concerned itself directly with the significance it wished to express.

It is the aim of Expressionistic art to widen the range of painting in order to make it co-extensive with music. If it has failed it is not because composers are greater artists than painters. The modernists having largely freed themselves from the representational limitations of painting have faced something far more serious, its static quality. They have generally found themselves struggling desperately for expression through the use of broken or otherwise subverted forms, which seldom created an emotional reaction and never sustained it.

For in order to sustain an emotion it is necessary to suggest with some fidelity its entire development. Just as we are completely at a loss, in looking at most modern work, to comprehend how the artist arrived at his conception, so we are equally at a loss to carry it on imaginatively. In consequence we consider the work without significance, whereas actual it is merely an unrelated aesthetic conception of possibly very great merit, Emotions being illusive and volatile, are best expressed by a medium which is mobile and flowing, Expressionism may thus attain an unsuspected development by means of the Clavilux, which has given us the wholly new conception of mobile painting.

In so far as modern art is concerned with purely abstract aesthetic relationships of form and color, it will be possible to use the Clavilux with equally rich possibilities. Precisely what may result it will be difficult to foresee. Aesthetically we have nowhere ventured very far in this direction, possibly because, at bottom, we wish art to remain a medium of interpretation rather than an end in itself.

Mr. Wilfred played several compositions of abstract forms which, considering the newness of the medium, were very satisfying. Conceivably these might be developed along more intricate and subtle lines of a far vaster scale with very imposing results. Indeed, it is one of the hopes of Mr. Wilfred to develop the Clavilux into a orchestra of instruments and, in place of the screen, to use a plaster wall of great height and width. Figures of perhaps one hundred feet could be developed, in glorious effects.

And, while all these developments take no account of other arts, it will be possible to use the Clavilux with perhaps amazing effectiveness in the new stage craft, where strange and magnificent things will be accomplished; with music and the dance, as a new form of accompaniment, or conversely, these things may be used as adjuncts to the Clavilux.

“Mobile Painting: Art’s Newest Expression”, Roderick Seidenberg, International Studio, March 1922.

Introducción a la música industrial en Canino

«Música industrial, dicen por ahí que eres la más ruidosa y transgresora, la más oscura y grosera, la perturbada que se atrevió a convertir los experimentos de vanguardia más intelectuales en pura provocación gamberra. Pero, dime, ¿de dónde vienes y quién eres realmente?».

He escrito una pequeña introducción a la música industrial, la podéis encontrar en Canino.

Retinal pessimism

“…Retinal pessimism is not simply the failure of the phenomena of perception, the physiology of the retina, or the science of optics. Nor is it the conviction that whatever one is seeing is the worst of all possible things that could be seen. Both are intriguing options. But, retinal pessimism is something else, and it is encapsulated in the strange status of black: at once present and absent, at once a fullness and an emptiness, at once the absorption of all light and the total absence of light. Black is at once the foundation of all colour and, in its absence or emptiness, it is also what undermines the substantiality of all colour. If one is willing to go down this path, a retinal pessimism is not just about the non-colour that is black, but it is about the perception of colour itself. It is, ultimately, the suspicion that all colours are black, that all retinal activity is retinal inactivity. Retinal pessimism: there is nothing to see (and you’re seeing it)…”

“Black on Black”, Eugene Thacker, The Public Domain Review.

Not understood at all

“On the other hand, sound and video artist _blank’s conceptual performance seemed to be misunderstood, or rather, not understood at all. Her deep and exacting exercise on deciphering and exposing how sound relates to image seemed to get lost on many. The loud, sharp sounds never intended to be anything like music – the audio was the very own sound of the image on the screen. While such an exercise is quite interesting in terms of revealing the philosophy behind digital sound, it understandably is not for every taste. However, such conceptual art that relates directly to sound and image definitely has a place in the festival. Briefing the audience prior to more conceptual, non-musical acts might help adjust the expectations, possibly… It’s not for easy consumption, but _blank’s work is one to stay, and echo through the years as a landmark of its very unique kind.”

Sibel Tinar, FLIC Magazine.

La muerte es una constante en el mundo del netaudio…

«La muerte es una constante en el mundo del netaudio, como en casi todas partes. Hay sellos que desparecen de golpe y otros que van dejando de moverse poco a poco. Hay plataformas que se quedan congeladas en el aire y personas cargadas de entusiasmo que de repente se caen al suelo. “Thanks for your netlabel” es un proyecto sobre los sellos virtuales que dejan de existir, o, más radicalmente, sobre el anunciado (y probablemente real) fin de la era de los netlabels. Más que un proyecto, es un meta-sello que ha editado un recopilatorio compuesto de reinterpretaciones sonoras y gráficas, en clave abstracta, de varios de los referentes históricos de la escena netlabel: Monotonik, Napster o Archive aparecen así hechos picadillo digital, sublimados en bits, reducidos a su mínima expresión. Resultado del trabajo conjunto de Blanca Rego y Mikel R. Nieto, “Thanks for your netlabel” es, en definitiva, una obra conceptual que invita a reflexionar sobre hacia dónde va (y sobre hacia dónde irá) la música libre.»

Gloria González, Blisstopic.

La herida únicamente puede curarse con la lanza que la hizo

O, como dice un párrafo de Parsifal, de Wagner, “la herida únicamente puede curarse con la lanza que la hizo”. (…) Entren al perverso placer del martirio prematuro: “¡Ofendimos a la Madre Naturaleza, así que recibimos lo que merecemos!”. Estar dispuesto a asumir la culpa de las amenazas a nuestro medio ambiente es algo engañosamente tranquilizador. Si somos culpables, entonces todo depende de nosotros; podemos salvarnos simplemente cambiando nuestro estilo de vida. Desesperada y obsesivamente reciclamos papel viejo, compramos comida orgánica, lo que sea para asegurarnos de que hacemos algo, que contribuimos. (…) El hecho de que las cenizas del modesto estallido volcánico en Islandia hicieran aterrizar a la mayoría de los aviones en Europa es un muy necesitado recordatorio del grado en que nosotros, los humanos, con nuestro tremendo poder sobre la naturaleza, no somos nada más que otra de las especies vivientes sobre la Tierra, y dependemos del delicado equilibrio de sus elementos.

2010: El fin de la naturaleza by Slavoj Zizek

Readings

• Medicina tradicional china [leer]
Daniel Reid. Ediciones Urano. 1999.

Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction
Colin Ward. Oxford University Press. 2004.

The Laws of Simplicity
John Maeda. The MIT Press. 2006.

• A User’s Guide to Détournement [read]
Guy Debord & Gil J Wolman. 1956.

• On Found Poetry (A FOUND INTRODUCTION) [read]
John Robert Colombo
From Open Poetry, (Ronald Gross & George Quasha, eds., 1973)

• A Day in the Life of a Musician [read]
Erik Satie

• Dead and Gone
Charlaine Harris. 2009.

Incivility and procrastination

“Si uno empieza por permitirse un asesinato, pronto no le da importancia a robar, del robo pasa a la bebida y a la inobservacia del día del Señor, y se acaba por faltar a la buena educación y por dejar las cosas para el día siguiente”.

Del asesinato considerado como una de las bellas artes, Thomas De Quincey. Alianza editorial

“For if once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.”

Second Paper on Murder, Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas de Quincey

Cryptoamnesia

“Cryptoamnesia is characterized by having a thought you’ve had before without realizing that you have had the thought before. The easiest way to observe cryptoamnesia is in episodes of plagiarism where the plagiarist is completely unaware that the text existed previously. (…) These anecdotes elucidate a common underlying mechanism of memory. Every time we recall a memory it is immersed in a narrative context. Usually the context of the memory is correctly recalled, however, in certain circumstances, it can be forgotten. Without a narrative context for an idea or memory, we tend to make one up. Therefore we may consider a memory remembered out of context a novel idea.”

The Neuroscience Journal of Cliff Rodgers

Pirotecnia para los tímpanos y la corteza cerebral

“El aire que vibra, la membrana que palpita, el hueso que se mueve, el líquido que oscila y los impulsos electroquímicos que se precipitan como fuentes sobre el cerebro expectante.
(…)
Los sonidos tienen un acceso más directo al Subconsciente que la información visual.
(…)
Más allá de los efectos dramáticos o psicoacústicos, los ruidos y sonidos pueden generar un espacio de experiencia perfectamente físico.
(…)
Según su propia etimología (sensatio), las sensaciones hacen referencia a sentir (sentire), es decir, al tacto, por lo tanto también a la relación mecánica del cuerpo con su entorno mediante la tracción y la resistencia.
(…)
El sonido es parte del cuerpo, penetra en él con sus ondas sonoras y nos afecta físicamente. Creo que este es uno de los motivos por los que puede emocionarnos tanto.
(…)
Siempre me ha encantado evadirme, ya fuera mediante un paseo, un libro, películas o sueños; y es ahora cuando me doy cuenta de lo que he hecho estos últimos años. He practicado agujeros que daban a mis otros mundos.”

Pirotecnia para los tímpanos y la corteza cerebral by Ralf Beil

Sitting with crossed legs

“When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them —as if legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon— I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.”

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

Readings

• Sensational technologies [read]
Annet Dekker and Vivian van Saaze. Digital Creativity 2005, Vol. 16, No. 2.

• Speaking of Art as Embodied imagination: A Multisensory Approach to Understanding Aesthetic Experience
Annamma Joy and John F. Sherry, Jr. Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. Vol. 30, September 2003.

• The Aesthetics of Smelly Art
Larry Shiner and Yulia Kriskovets. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65:3 Summer 2007.

• (Re)Confirming the Conventions – An Ontology of the Olfactory [read]
Helen Paris.

Readings

• From Stroboscope to Dream Machine: A History of Flicker-Induced Hallucinations
B.C. ter Meulen, D. Tavy and B.C. Jacobs b. European Neurology Vol. 62, No. 5, 2009.

• Décor by Timothy Leary [read]
Mark Alen. The New York Times. January 20, 2005.

• The Touch through Time: Raoul Hausmann, Nam June Paik and the Transmission Technologies of the Avant-Garde
Ina Bloom. Leonardo – Volume 34, Number 3, June 2001.

• Gnosis and Iconoclasm: A Case Study of Cinephilia
Annette Michelson. October, Vol. 83 (Winter, 1998).

• Review: Yann Beauvais (ed.), Paul Sharits
Federico Windhausen. Animation: An interdisciplinary journal. July 2009, Volume 4, No. 2.

• The Films of Peter Kubelka
Earl Bodien. Film Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Winter, 1966-1967).

Readings

• What’s in a flicker film?
Edward S. Small and Joseph Anderson. Communication Monographs, Volume 43, March 1976.

• His African Journey: An Interview with Peter Kubelka
Scott MacDonald. Film Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Spring, 2004),.

• Structural Film: Ten Years Later
Regina Cornwell. The Drama Review: TDR, Vol. 23, No. 3, Structuralist Performance Issue (Sep., 1979).

• Special effects in Martin Arnold’s and Peter Tscherkassky’s cinema of mind
Michele Pierson. Discourse, 28.2 & 3, Spring and Fall 2006.

• Biomusic and the Brain: An interview with David Rosenboom
David Paul. Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2 (1986).