Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (Reflecting color-light plays, 1922
light performance, apparatus reconstructed 2016
Courtesy of Microscope Gallery and Kurt Schwerdtfeger Estate © 2016.
László Moholy-Nagy, The mechanics of the light prop, 1930
Watercolour, ink and pencil on circular paper, mounted on round hardboard, diameter: 52 cm
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, photo: Hermann Kiessling.
Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack, Colour Chord 21-stringed flat sound box, no date (c. mid-20th century)
Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne.
Gift of Olive Hirschfeld, 1980. 01.0017.
György Kepes, Simulated effects of a proposed mile-long
programmed luminous wall, suggested for the Boston Harbor
Bicentennial, 1964–65, photo: Nishan Bichajian
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Program in
Art, Culture and Technology, © Juliet Stone.
Muriel Cooper, 1969, Promotional Poster for Bauhaus:
Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago, Image courtesy
Muriel R. Cooper Collection, Morton R. Godine Library, Archive
Massachusetts College of Art and Design, reprinted by
permission of the MIT Press.
Stan VanDerBeek, Movie-Drome, ca. 1963
Courtesy: Estate of Stan VanDerBeek, photo: Bob Hanson.
Richard Hamilton, Diab DS-101 Computer, 1985–89
Tate-Modern, © R. Hamilton. All Rights Reserved / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019,
photo: © Tate, London 2019.
Article on the Bauhaus punk band,
in: New Styles New Sounds, from October 1981, p. 29
© Kasper de Graaf (Editor) and Malcolm Garrett (Art Director).
The Bauhaus object for the chapter Still Undead is Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (Reflecting Color-light-play) from 1922. Producing a combination of moving abstract shadows, light forms, and sound, it emerged as a creative development at the Bauhaus from outside of the curriculum.
As the starting point for this chapter, the Farblichtspiele open up numerous strands for consideration, including the Bauhaus parties, performances, experiments with light, the artist as engineer, as well as new media and commercial design. Schwerdtfeger’s apparatus and similar works that followed it at the Bauhaus have also been an important reference for expanded cinema, pointing to a future in which sound, experimental film and digital culture would all form part of the contemporary art scene.
Still Undead traces a chronology of artistic experiments with new technologies that have emerged from academic institutions, including the New Bauhaus in Chicago, the Centre for Advanced Visual Studies and Media Lab at MIT, as well as the sound and performance workshops at Leeds School of Art. This chapter explores how these innovations from within the context of academia led to collaborations with industry and commerce as well as spilling over into the fields of digital technology, art, popular and counter- culture. In this way, Still Undead shows how in the context of the postwar societies of the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, artistic experimentation transcended institutional structures on one hand, while on the other, were integrated into them.
Today, creative innovation and countercultural resistance all too easily are directed toward economic profit through the marketing of products and social environments. The blurring of the borders between experimentation, institutionalization, and commercialization, which was already characteristic of the Bauhaus, has now become the norm. This tendency to merge resistant experimental practices into the consumption, emphasizes the necessity for the re-politicization of art, technology, and popular culture today.
in: Maske & Kothurn. bauhaus & film (Thomas Tode), Band 57, Heft 1-2, 2013, S. 141–156.
from: Modernism/modernity, Vol. 22, No. 1, January 2015, pp. 23–55.
from: New German Critique, Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2009, pp. 89-131.
from: Criticism, Vol. 56, No. 3, Fall 2014, pp. 457–479.
from: Cristina Pratas Cruzeiro, (Ed.) Migrations. Migration Processes and Artistic Practices in a Time of War: From the 20th Century to the Present. Belas-artes, Lisbon, pp. 271–289.
from: The Pleasure of Light. Gyorgy Kepes and Frank Malina at the Intersection of Science and Art, Ludwig Museum, Budapest 2010, pp. 34–52.
in: Sonja Neef (ed.), An Bord der Bauhaus. Zur Heimatlosigkeit der Moderne, transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2009, pp. 153–165.