Oskar Fischinger, the “Father of Visual Music” was an animator, filmmaker, and painter. Born in Germany, Fischinger was first introduced to film when he met Walter Ruttmann, who was a pioneer in abstract film. After meeting Ruttmann, Fischinger was inspired and began experimenting with liquids and modeling agents. In 1936 Fischinger moved to Hollywood to pursue his interest in film. Previously, in 1929 Fischinger worked on the first music videos.
At the presentation in the nanotech lecture hall, I was fortunate enough to see some of these very early music videos. The videos are not released to the public and thus are somewhat rare. The music videos were extremely different from modern music videos. These videos were animations of color and shapes moving and changing with the music. As the music would spike, different shapes and colors would emerge and explode on drum beats or flash vibrantly on loud notes. The music featured in the videos was primarily big band type music, purely instrumental. One of the videos presented was called Ornament Sound. Much like what was described above, the video Ornament Sound featured flashing and moving colors and shapes which matched up to the music.
Fischinger worked on numerous projects while in Hollywood. At one point he worked for the Disney company on the masterpiece “Phantasia.” Although it was not specified exactly which parts of the feature he worked on, Fischinger clearly had an influence on the film, as parts of Phantasia are very similar to what I saw in the music videos shown. During the years of 1936-1943, Fischinger worked on many more projects including another that was shown at the lecture, called allegretto. This film was fairly similar to the other music videos shown with big band and instrumental music paired with colors moving and flashing across the screen in synch with the music.
Not only did Fischinger create works himself, but others who studied with him, under him, or were simply inspired and influenced by him pushed forward in the sound music world. Mary Allen Bute was one of those influenced by Fischinger. Bute’s works were different from Fischingers in several ways. Her overall presentation and color scheme greatly differed. In Bute’s works, an overall picture image seemed to exist with different colored smoke playing across the background. In the foreground shaped would move, twist, and dance to music. In the works we saw, Bute’s music and color was slower and not as loud or dramatic as the those featured in Fischinger’s works.
Norman Mclaren was another music and sound artist featured in the presentation. This man was from the synchromy national film board of Canada. His works featured rapid image flashes, usually squares with beeping electronic noises sounds kind of like a video game bleeping noises, flashing all colors. Of the three artists featured, Mclarens was clearly the strangest. After a short while his pieces became redundant and just plain annoying. Fischinger was my personal favorite, as I enjoyed watching the old style music videos.