Edition 4

Still Undead

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).

●Edition Concept

The starting point for the exhibition chapter Still Undead is Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (Reflective colored light plays) from 1922, which premiered at a party held at Wassily Kandinsky’s apartment. Using a combination of moving abstract shadow figures, light forms and sounds, the work was created entirely outside the Bauhaus curriculum. The colored light-plays open up several aspects, including experiments in the field of light design, sound art, performance and the tradition of Bauhaus festivals, of which there were many.

Still Undead traces artistic experiments with light, sound and new technologies at art schools and universities such as the New Bauhaus in Chicago, the Centre for Advanced Visual Studies (CVAS) and the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. Experiments with new media and technologies emerged in a field of tension between the institutionalization and scientification of artistic and popular counter-cultures in Western Europe and the United States and young people’s authentic will to create a mode of living outside the cultural mainstream. Schwerdtfeger’s reflective plays of colored light are regarded today as an important reference for Expanded Cinema; they point to a future in which sound, experimental film and digital culture would become a central component of contemporary art. Thus, Stan VanDerBeek’s filmic works, the performances of Velvet Underground—with their stroboscopic multimedia light shows—find their counterpart in consumer culture and the development of information technologies during the 1960s. Still Undead discusses how countercultural production transcended institutional structures on the one hand and was integrated into them on the other. The blurring of the boundaries between experiment, institutionalization and commercialization, already characteristic of the Bauhaus, had become the norm by the 1960s. This general tendency—the fusion of resistant and experimental practices with a “common sense”—underscores the need for a re-politicization of art, technology and popular culture in the current moment.

The exhibition chapter Still Undead was developed with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin) in cooperation with Christian Hiller (Berlin), Gavin Butt (London) and Mariana Meneses Romero (London). Parallel to the exhibition at the Zentrum Paul Klee, a second version of Still Undead, with a focus on the reception of Bauhaus-derived new media ideas in Great Britain, will be shown at Nottingham Contemporary from 21.09.2019 to 05.01.2020.

●Related Articles
Film Experimentes by Kurt Kranz

Der Bauhausschüler Kurt Kranz war Maler, Zeichner, Grafiker, Typograf, Ausstellungsgestalter, Erfinder, Programmierer, Pädagoge und Experimentalfilmer – ein Erforscher der Formen und Farben in Bewegung. Durch die Verknüpfung von Kunst, Wissenschaft und Pädagogik verfolgte er sein Leben lang den interdisziplinären Ansatz des Bauhauses.

English translation coming soon... → more

Light as a Creative Medium in the Art of György Kepes

Design works employing light refraction, fixation, and reflection were already a feature of László Moholy-Nagy’s teaching at the Bauhaus. When in the summer of 1937 Moholy followed Walter Gropius’s advice and accepted Norma K. Stahle’s invitation to head the New Bauhaus in Chicago, he lay great store by György Kepes’s help in setting up the school in the New World. → more

Interview with Filmmaker and Photographer Ronald Nameth — On filming Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the influence of the New Bauhaus

Ronald Nameth has been working with film, electronics, video, and digital media from the 1960s until today. In addition to Warhol, Nameth has collaborated with several key figures in the arts including musical innovators John Cage and Terry Riley, photographers Aaron Siskand and Art Sinsabauagh, as well as many other artists and performers. In this interview with bauhaus imaginista he recalls how the New Bauhaus method of teaching allowed him to explore the nature of various media to better understand the medium itself and its creative potentials. → more

Lichtwechsel — An den Übergängen vom Kaleidoskopischen zum Stroboskopischen

Die Farblichtspiele von Kurt Schwerdtfeger und Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, die im Kontext von frühen abstrakten Filmexperimenten, kinetischen Skulpturen und Bühnenexperimenten 1922 am Bauhaus entstanden, gelten als Vorreiter des Expanded Cinema. Um 1964 wurden sie in einer Zeit rekonstruiert, in der die filmische und lichtkaleidoskopische Avantgarde der 1920er-Jahre von einer neuen Generation von Experimentalfilmern und -theoretikern wiederentdeckt wurde. Deren Umgang mit technischen Medien war weniger von Kollektivitätsgedanken als von individualistischen Selbsterfahrungen und psychotropisch angeregten Selbstentgrenzungen geprägt. → more

Vision in Motion —> Information Landscapes — From Stage Props and Camouflage Techniques to Democratic Apparatus and Cybernetic Networks

The examination of approaches, models and strategies for a redefinition of visual culture, the control of images and the shaping of perception made former Bauhäuslers interesting to the American establishment. Their knowledge was incorporated in the development of democratization tools that aid in the fight against fascism and, later, were strategically used against Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War. → more

Latter-day Bauhaus? — Muriel Cooper and the Digital Imaginary

The Bauhaus is a monument—a book with the physical heft to match its scholarly ambition. Published in 1969 by the MIT Press, The Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago stands fourteen inches tall, ten inches wide, and two and-a-half inches thick, weighing in at over ten pounds. It is the revised, expanded, and redesigned translation of editor Hans Wingler’s 1962 German tome Das Bauhaus, 1919–1933: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin. Muriel Cooper, the MIT Press’s first Design and Media Director, consistently rated the book as one of her proudest achievements among the nearly 500 she would design or oversee during her tenure. → more

The Design of Information Overload — A Cold War Story

In 1959 Charles and Ray Eames presented their multi-screen film Glimpses of the USA inside Buckminster Fuller’s golden dome at the American Exhibition in Moscow. This propaganda project on behalf of the United States Information Agency  was part of a series of experiments into information overload as a new form of communication and persuasion. What was radical in 1959 has become every day. We are surrounded everywhere, all the time, by arrays of multiple, simultaneous images. The idea of a single image commanding our attention has faded away. It seems as if we need to be distracted in order to concentrate. → more

The Bauhaus Journey in Britain

The Bauhaus's teaching approach emphasised the idea of working as a community of creatives and producers rather than merely focusing on the traditional pupil-teacher relationship. In this essay the focus will be on the Bauhaus’s impetus to bring art and design into everyday life highlighting in Great Britain’s visual culture in the 1930s and between 1960s and 70s and how it influenced youth and popular culture during the swinging sixties in London. → more

Bedsit Art in the Leeds Experiment

In the 1970s the city of Leeds was noted as home of “the most influential art school in Europe since the Bauhaus,” and a thriving punk and post-punk music scene. Gavin Butt explores a small art school milieu in which avant-garde experiments in photography, performance, film and sound art gave shape to non-conformist presentations of the body and of sexual and gendered identity. → more

Festive and Theatrical — The Mask Photos of Gertrud Arndt and Josef Albers as an Expression of Festival Culture

Costuming played a central role at the Bauhaus. Gertrud Arndt's mask photographs (a series of 43 self-portraits) derive directly from these Bauhaus festivals. As well as a series of nine color photographs taken in direct succession at Black Mountain College in 1940 by Josef Albers. → more

Communitas … After Black Mountain College

In the wake of Black Mountain College’s dissolution in 1954, two former students Paul and Vera Williams, left North Carolina and founded Gate Hill Artists’ Cooperative about an hour’s drive outside of New York City. “The Land,” as the Coop was often called by the artists, composers, filmmakers, choreographers, poets, and potters who built their homes and studios in this rural setting, evinced many of the pedagogical lessons of the Bauhaus translated through the American educational experiment in combining art and life that was Black Mountain College. → more

To train not only for, but also against something! — A plea to think politically about the interdisciplinary art academy

Art colleges where the fine, applied and performing arts are taught under one roof often refer to the historical Bauhaus. Although the institution possessed no separate workshop for music, the experiments on the Bauhaus stage are regarded as prototypical for the further development of interdisciplinary art approaches later in the twentieth century. This text deals with the interdisciplinary art academy on the slide of a deregulated present. It reviews a number of developments to which we have already become accustomed. It is precisely for this reason that we should recall the opportunities offered by interdisciplinary education in both an artistic and political sense. → more

Bauhaus — Bela Lugosi’s Dead

The influential post-punk band, Bauhaus, helped invent the musical genre and sartorial style of goth-rock. Formed in 1979, their nineminute-long debut single Bela Lugosi’s Dead includes a refrain that has also inspired the title for the exhibition chapter Still Undead. → more

●Research Archive
Zwischen Formreihen und Phasenfilmen. Die Filmexperimente von Kurt Kranz
Christian Hiller

in: Maske & Kothurn. bauhaus & film (Thomas Tode), Band 57, Heft 1-2, 2013, S. 141–156.

DE Size: 1 MB
Capturing Modernity, Jazz, Film, and Moholy- Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage
Edit Tóth

from: Modernism/modernity, Vol. 22, No. 1, January 2015, pp. 23–55.

EN Size: 2 MB
Source:See a more detailed discussion of the Light Prop and other Bauhaus works' relationship to phenomenology in: Edit Tóth: Design and Visual Culture from the Bauhaus to Contemporary Art: Optical Deconstructions, Routledge, London 2018.
A “Schooling of the Senses”: Post-Dada Visual Experiments in the Bauhaus Photomontages of László Moholy-Nagy and Marianne Brandt
Elizabeth Otto

from: New German Critique, Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2009, pp. 89-131.

EN Size: 836 KB
Stroboscopic: Andy Warhol and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable
Homay King

from: Criticism, Vol. 56, No. 3, Fall 2014, pp. 457–479.

EN Size: 1 MB
Kasper de Graaf, Malcolm Garrett

from: New Sounds New Styles, Oct. 1981.

EN Size: 2 MB
Case Studies of Modernist Refugees and Émigrés to Australia, 1930–1950. Light, Colour and Educational Studies under the Shadow of Fascism and War
Andrew McNamara, Ann Stephen, Isabel Wünsche

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.

EN Size: 1 MB
●All Articles
Filter by Language:
  • EN
  • DE
Film Experimentes by Kurt Kranz EN
Zwischen Formreihen und Phasenfilmen — Die Filmexperimente von Kurt Kranz DE
Light as a Creative Medium in the Art of György Kepes EN
Interview with Filmmaker and Photographer Ronald Nameth — On filming Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the influence of the New Bauhaus EN
Lichtwechsel — An den Übergängen vom Kaleidoskopischen zum Stroboskopischen DE
Vision in Motion —> Information Landscapes — From Stage Props and Camouflage Techniques to Democratic Apparatus and Cybernetic Networks EN
Sehen in Bewegung —> Information Landscapes — Von Theaterrequisiten und Camouflage-Techniken zu demokratischen Apparaten und kybernetischen Netzwerken DE
Latter-day Bauhaus? — Muriel Cooper and the Digital Imaginary EN
The Design of Information Overload — A Cold War Story EN
The Bauhaus Journey in Britain EN
Bedsit Art in the Leeds Experiment EN
Festive and Theatrical — The Mask Photos of Gertrud Arndt and Josef Albers as an Expression of Festival Culture EN
Festives und Theatralisches — Die Maskenfotos von Gertrud Arndt und Josef Albers als Ausdruck von Festkultur DE
Communitas … After Black Mountain College EN
To train not only for, but also against something! — A plea to think politically about the interdisciplinary art academy EN
Nicht nur für, sondern auch gegen etwas ausbilden! — Ein Plädoyer, die spartenübergreifende Kunsthochschule politisch zu denken DE
Bauhaus — Bela Lugosi’s Dead EN
Bauhaus — Bela Lugosi’s Dead DE