rational design, the same was assumed to be true in art, until it became apparent that an exaggerated emphasis
on its determinable intellectual aspects merely served as a smoke-screen, once the elements of optical expres
sion as such quite apart from their »artistic« qualities had been mastered. it was of course necessary
first to develop a standard language of optical expression, before really gifted artists could attempt to raise the
elements thus established to the level of »art«. that was the basic aim of all recent artistic and pedagogic efforts
in the optical sphere, if today the sub-compensated element of feeling revolts against this tendency, we can only
wait until the pendulum will react in a less violent manner.
from painting to the display of light
all technical achievements in the sphere of optics must be utilised for the development of this standard language,
among them the mechanical and technical requisites of art are of primary importance.
until recently they were condemned on the grounds that manual skill, the «personal touch«, should be regarded as
the essential thing in art. today they already hold their own in the conflict of opinions,- tomorrow they will triumph;
the day after tomorrow they will yield results accepted without question, brushwork, the subjective manipulation
of a tool is lost, but the clarity of formal relationships is increased to an extent almost transcending the limitations
of matter,- an extent in which the objective context becomes transparently clear, maximum precision, the law of the
norm, replaces the misinterpreted significance of manual skill.
it is difficult today to predict the formal achievements of the future, for the formal crystallisation of a work of art
is conditioned not merely by the incalculable factor of talent, but also by the intensity of the struggle for the mastery
of its medium (tools, today machines), but it is safe to predict even today that the optical creation of the future
will not be a mere translation of our present forms of optical expression, for the new implements and the hitherto
neglected medium of light must necessarily yield results in conformity with their own inherent properties.
purposive progress of thought, circular advance of technique
during the intermediary stages, however, we must not overlook a well-known factor retarding the advance of art:
individual pioneers invent new instruments, new methods of work, revolutionising the traditional forms of production,
but usually a long time must elapse before the new can be generally applied, the old hampers its advance, the
creative potentialities of the new may be clearly felt, but for a certain time it will appear clothed in traditional
forms that are rendered obsolete by its emergence.
thus in the sphere of music we must for the present content ourselves with the noisy triumphs of the mechanical piano
and of the cinema organ, instead of hearing the new electro-mechanical music that is entirely independent of all
previously existing instruments, in the sphere of pointing the same revolutionary significance already applies to
the use of spraying devices, of powerful enamel reflectors and of such reliable synthetic materials as galalith, trolit,
bakelite, zellon, or aluminium, the situation is similar in the realm of the cinema, where a method of production
is regarded as «revolutionary* whose creative achievements are scarcely greater than those that might be obtained
could classical paintings be set in motion.
this situation is unsatisfactory and superannuated when judged in terms of a future in which light displays of any
desired quality and magnitude will suddenly blaze up, and multicoloured floodlights with transparent sheaths of fire
will project a constant flow of immaterial, evanescent images into space by the simple manipulation of switches,
and in the film of the future we shall have constant change in the speed and intensity of light; space in motion
constantly varied through the medium of light refracted from efflorescent reflectors; flashes of light and black-outs;
chiaroscuri, distance and proximity of light,- ultra-violet rays, infra-red penetration of darkness rendered visible
a wealth of undreamt-of optical experiences that will be profoundly stirring to our emotions.
a new instrument of vision
in photography we possess an extraordinary instrument for reproduction, but photography is much more than that,
today it is in a fair way to bringing (optically) something entirely new into the world, the specific elements of
photography can be isolated from their attendant complications, not only theoretically, but tangibly, and in their