Finishing research for a talk at Genève’s Mapping Festival, I came across this gem from comments on Create Digital Motion. It’s the innovative Lumigraph, an interactive light experiment by visionary film and animation pioneer Oskar Fischinger. The sci-fi film looked ahead to what the music of 2071 might be like, in 1964′s The Time Travelers. To their credit, goofy love lounge aside, the reuse of Fischinger’s abstract light project isn’t far off from music in 2013. (And, hey, whatever puts you in the mood.)

Fischinger, for his part, almost certainly wasn’t thrilled with the use of his creation in this manner. But, then, part of the reason it makes sense today is because Fischinger’s abstract animations have had such a profound impact on computer animation, that now it’s second nature to combine visuals with music in the way the made-up Lumichord does. The groovy music comes from Richard LaSalle, whose prolific scoring career included the likes of the Wonder Woman TV show.

Consider: you could actually play this performance, and dress the way these folks are, at your local av festival. Time traveling, indeed.

But if you want to see this the way Fischinger did intend, the terrific Center for Visual Music is working to preserve his work and others, and could use our support. They have a 1969 performance by Elfriede Fischinger that better represents how the instrument was intended.

And Oskar Fischinger was happy to let you “play” the light as instrument:

Oskar called his invention a “new Color-Play instrument…The instrument is played by HAND and produces the most fantastic color display – but controlled direct through the Player.”

Inspiring stuff.

  • Sjakelien

    With all due respect, we shouldn’t forget about the
    Terpsitone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpsitone)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Heh, this is a much longer list – dozens of instruments. But that one is quite important.

      Love this blurb in wikipedia – “By most accounts, the instrument was nearly impossible to control” – ha!

      But I wonder what Lydia has to say about that, actually, since she still has it.

  • Shmerdjee

    Barbarella anyone? Where’s Jane when you need her?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cacealian Todd Fletcher

    Great find, thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.thompson Tim Thompson

    At the upcoming Maker Faire (May 18/19 in San Mateo), folks will be able to wave their hands similarly and play the Space Palette – a 3D interface for painting graphics and playing music, simultaneously. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6cCEYLmWJM for what it looks and sounds like.