Academic journal article Music, Sound and the Moving Image

Cover Image: Oskar Fischinger

Academic journal article Music, Sound and the Moving Image

Cover Image: Oskar Fischinger

Article excerpt

Our cover image is a still from Oskar Fischinger's Allegretto (1936-43), reproduced by kind permission from the Elfriede Fischinger Trust. In launching this journal we felt it appropriate to reference Fischinger, a pioneer filmmaker whose work anticipates so many later developments in music and moving image media. Inspired by the emerging abstract cinema movement in Germany in the early 1920s, Fischinger initially developed a series of animated Studies that explored the rapid interplay of abstract patterns moving in exact synchronisation to popular and classical music recordings. This technique he then refined in cinema commercials for the German advertising agency Tolirag in the 1930s, and later in Hollywood, in short films for Paramount and MGM, including Allegretto and An Optical Poem. He also designed the 'Toccata and Fugue' sequence for Disney's Fantasia but later walked out on the project, uncredited, after his designs were simplified and made more representational. In the 1940s he developed the notion of 'motion painting', a method of stop-frame animation on each separate brushstroke of evolving abstract patterns, again tightly synchronised to classical recordings; and in the 50s, patented his 'Lumigraph', an instrument for the manipulation of multiple coloured light projections in accompaniment to live music.

As early as the mid-1920s Fischinger also experimented with simultaneous abstract projections on several screens, a precursor of the psychedelic lightshows of some forty years later, and proposed the designing of patterns onto the optical soundtrack to achieve a conceptual unification of sound and image. …

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