The film program of the last day of the festival will be devoted to synesthetic film. Synethesis is the scientific name for the mutual influence of the senses. The best known form of this is the phenomenon that some people see colors in music, but interactions between other senses also occur. One theory to explain synaesthetic phenomena is that the types of information from different senses have certain characteristics in common and are thus to some extent interchangeable. These characteristics are, for example, clarity (colors, sounds, smells), sharpness (shapes, sounds, smells) and movement. This exchange happens outside of language as children are more sensitive to it and synaesthetic abilities diminish as language becomes more important in thinking. In film, synaesthetic principles are mainly applied in abstract films. The first abstract films were made by the Italian futurists Ginna and Corra around 1912 (these films have been lost.) They were looking for a moving light art and felt that the medium of film had already (!) degenerated into a film theater and hardly was visual. From abstract painting later came Eggeling and Richter, who wanted to add movement and movement to their painting. The latter, together with Ruttman and Fischinger, formed the movement of the “absolute film”. Because music was the only abstract and moving art until then, structural concepts from music were applied in film. In the 1930s only Fischinger continued to make abstract films and other filmmakers such as Lye and Blanc-Gatti emerged independently. The first movement only reappeared after the war on the American West Coast, with filmmakers such as Whitney, Smith and Belson. These built on the ideas of the absolute filmmakers (Fischinger had moved to Hollywood) and especially the metaphysical theories of the abstract painter Kandinsky and Eggeling. A more direct, perceptual relationship between image and sound is reflected in the films of McLaren, Sharits and Conrad.


In this program William Moritz covered the development of the synesthetic abstract film, from the absolute film to the American post-war abstract and the “flicker” film. William Moritz discussed mainly the (synaesthetic) ideas of the various film makers and their backgrounds on the basis of these films and slides. The following films were screened:

Viking Eggeling

– “Symphonie Diagonale” (1924)

Walter Ruttman

– “Opus 1” (1921) (color) “Opus 2” (1921), “Opus 3” (1922-25), “Opus 4” (1923-27), “In der Nacht “(1931)

Hans Richter

– “Rhytmus 21” (1924)

Len Lye

– “Color Box” (1935)

“Free Radicals” (1957)

Charles Blanc-Gatti

– “Chromophony” (1939)

Harry Smith

– “* 7” (1951), “* 11”

John & James Whitney

– “Abstract Film Excercise * 4” (1944)

James Whitney

– “Yantra” (1955),

“Wu Ming” (1976)

Hy Hirsch

– “Come Closer” (1952)

“Autumn Spectrum”


Norman McLaren

– “A Phantasy” (1952),

“Synchromy” (1971)

Jordan Belson

– “Allures” (1961)


Tony & Beverly Conrad

– “Straight and Narrow” (1970)

James Whitney

– “Yantra”

William Moritz is an American expert in avant-garde film and light art. He is the biographer of Oskar Fischinger and was involved in the conservation of early abstract films.



In this program Elfriede Fischinger talked about the life and work of Oskar Fischinger. Oskar Fischinger is a key figure in the history of abstract film. On the basis of his films, his widow told something about his working method, his ideas about sound in films, his idea and about optical sound and his mystical ideas. The following films were screened:

– “Wach Experimente” (1921-26)

– “R1, ein Formspiel” (1927)

– “Orgelstäbe” (1927) (a reconstruction of a show for 3 projectors, o.v.)

– “Spirale” (1926)

– “Seelische Konstruktionen” (1927)

– “Munich-Berlin-Wanderung” (1927)

– “Study 5” (1930)

– “Study 7” (1930)

– “Study 8” (1930)

– “Ornamentton” (1932)

– “Gasparcolour tests” (1933)

– “Kreise” (1933)

– “Muratti Greift Ein” (1934)

– “Composition in Blau” (1935)

– “Alegretto” (1936) (black and white version for Paramount)

– “Alegretto” (1936) (color)

– “Radio Dynamics” (1942)

– “Motion Painting * 1” (1947)


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