My Statements are in My Work
by Oskar Fischinger
To write about my work in the absolute film is rather difficult. The only thing to do is to write why I made these films.
When I was 19 years old I had to talk about a certain work by William Shakespeare in our Literary club. In preparing for this speech I began to analyze the work in a graphic way. One large sheets of drawing paper, along a horizontal line, I put down all the feelings and happenings, scene after scene, in graphic lines and curves. The lines and curves showed the dramatic development of the whole work and the emotional moods very clearly.
It was quite an interesting beginning, but not many could understand this graphic, absolute expression.
To make it more convincing, more easily understood, the drawings needed movement, the same speed and tempo as the feeling originally possessed. The cinematic element had to be added.
To do this, the motion picture film was a welcome medium. And so it happened that I made my first absolute film.
Then sound was added to the film. On the wings of music faster progress was possible.
The flood of feeling created through music intensified the feeling and effectiveness of this graphic cinematic expression, and helped to make understandable the absolute film. Under the guidance of music, which was already highly developed there came the speedy discovery of new laws - the application of acoustical laws to optical expression was possible. As in the dance, new motions and rhythms sprang out of the music - and the rhythms became more and more important.
I named these absolute films Studies; and I numbered them - Study No. 1, Study No. 2, and so forth. These early black and white studies drew enthusiastic response at the time from the most famous art critics of England and Europe.
Then came the color film. Of course, the temptation was great to work in color, and I made thereafter a number of absolute color films. But I soon found out that the simplicity of my own black and white films could never be surpassed.
The color film proved itself to be an entirely new art form with its own artistic problems as far removed from black and white film as music itself - as an art medium - is removed from painting. Searching, for the last thirteen years, to find the ideal solution to this problem, I truly believe I have found it now, and my new, forthcoming work will show it.
Now a few words about the usual motion picture film which is shown to the masses everywhere in countless moving picture theatres all over the world. It is photographed realism - photographed surface realism-in-motion ... There is nothing of an absolute artistic creative sense in it. It copies only nature with realistic conceptions, destroying the deep and absolute creative force with substitutes and surface realisms. Even the cartoon film is today on a very low artistic level. It is a mass product of factory proportions, and this, of course, cuts down the creative purity of a work of art. No sensible creative artist could create a sensible work of art if a staff of co-workers of all kinds had his or her say in the final creation - producer, story director, story writer, music director, conductor, composers, sound men, gag men, effect men, layout men, background directors, animators, inbetweeners, inkers, cameramen, technicians, publicity directors, managers, box office managers, and many others. They change the ideas, kill the ideas, before they are born, prevent the ideas from being born, and substitute for the absolute creative motives only the cheap ideas to fit the lowest among them.
The creative artist of the highest level always works at his best alone, moving far ahead of his time. And this shall be our basis: That the Creative Spirit shall be unobstructed through realities or anything that spoils his absolute pure creation.
And so we cut out the tremendous mountains of valueless motion picture productions of the past and the future - the mountain ranges of soap bubbles, and we must concentrate on the tiny golden thread underneath which is hardly visible beneath the glamorous, sensational excitement, securely buried for a long time, especially in our own time when the big producing and distributing monopolies control every motion picture screen in an airtight grip.
Consequently, there is only one way for the creative artist: To produce only for the highest ideals - not thinking in terms of money or sensations or to please the masses.
The real artist should not care if he is understood, or misunderstood by the masses. He should listen only to his Creative Spirit and satisfy his highest ideals, and trust that this will be the best service that he can render humanity.
It is the only hope for the creative artist that the art lovers, the art collectors, the art institutes, and the art museums develop increasingly greater interest in this direction, and make it possible for the artist to produce works of art through the medium of the film.
In this connection I wish to express my deep gratitude to one great American institution which has in the past helped so many artists in an idealistic, unselfish way, and which has made it possible for me to do a great amount of research work in the direction of the absolute, non-objective film. I am speaking of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York under the direction of Curator Hilla Rebay.
First printed in Art in Cinema catalog, San Francisco Museum of Art, 1947
copyright Elfriede Fischinger Trust, all rights reserved