At the beginning of the great unknown of all beginnings there is the Idea, a knowledge profound and unconscious, a feeling, a vision of the Ideal, of a path to follow, of everything, of the conclusion and of the end -- of which there never is one.
The arena of the experimental is the arena of consciousness that awakes and stretches, the time of searching, the discovery of a method of doing things, of developing methods and techniques -- which must correspond to the meaning and harmonize with it. Unconscious vision of the beginning.
Then comes a period of studying the possibilities of a satisfactory or ideal technique, or of a method that will grow into the completeness, the recognition, the control of the means of expression until that can become a work of art. Finally comes the moment to reject all that which becomes the tool of the creator -- the humble hand through which the artist expresses and reveals himself.
If the cinema one day becomes an artform, we will owe it to poor, unknown men who have borne great suffering within them: men comparable to Grünewald, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Mozart and Beethoven. These interpreters of the creator, the artists, will be recognized through their creations, some generations later, often after their bodies have rotted and disintegrated in the earth.
We will only find true artists and masterpieces among the so-called experimental films and filmmakers. They actually use creative processes. The film isn't "cut", it is a continuity, the absolute truth, the creative truth. Any observer can verify that, and I consider myself an observer.
I worked nine months on a film, Motion Painting No. 1, without ever seeing a piece of it. All I did was check the exposure level of each roll that came back from the lab, so I only saw the film when the first color composite release print was ready. Fortunately, I was relieved to see that all my anxieties about those hundreds of "little technical devils" that could have spoiled so many months' of work were quite unjustified. I was very happy, and felt a deep emotion that I cannot describe -- but it is probably something that others feel on similar occasions.
I want this work to fulfill the spiritual and emotional needs of our era. For there is something we all seek -- something we try for during a lifetime working at filmmaking, always unsatisfied, always cheated, always taken for an idiot by the film industry, but hoping despite all that, here and there, one day, perchance, something will be revealed, arising from the unknown, something that will reveal the True Creation: the Creative Truth!
The usual motion picture which is shown to the masses everywhere in countless motion picture theaters all over the world is photographed realism -- photographed surface realism-in-motion... There is nothing of an absolute artistic creative sense in it. It copies only nature with realistic conceptions, destroying the deep and absolute creative force with substitutes and surface realisms. Even the animated film today is on a very low artistic level. It is a mass product of factory proportions, and this, of course, cuts down the creative purity of the work of art. No sensible creative artist could create a sensible work of art if a staff of co-workers of all kinds each has his or her say in the final creation -- producer, story director, story writer, music director, conductor, composer, sound men, gag men, effect men, layout men, background directors, animators, inbetweeners, inkers, cameramen, technicians, publicity directors, managers, box office managers, and many others. They change the ideas, kill the ideas before they are born, prevent ideas from being born, and substitute for the absolute creative motives only cheap ideas to fit the lowest common denominator.
The creative artist of the highest level always works at his best alone, moving far ahead of his time. And this shall be our basic tenet: that the Creative Spirit shall be unobstructed by realities or anything else that spoils this absolute pure creation.
And so we must cut out the tremendous mountains of valueless motion picture productions of the past and future-- the mountain ranges of soap bubbles-- and we must concentrate on the tiny golden thread underneath which is hardly visible beneath the glamorous, sensational excitement, securely buried for a long time, especially in our own era when the big producing and distributing monopolies control every motion picture screen in an airtight grip.
So only one way remains for the creative artist: to produce only for the highest ideals -- not thinking in terms of money or sensational success or to please the masses. The real artist should not care if he is understood, or misunderstood, by the masses. He should listen only to his Creative Spirit and satisfy his highest ideals, and trust that this will be the best service that he can render humanity.
Written for the Knokke-le-Zoute film festival, 1949, when Motion Painting No. 1 received the Grand Prize.
(copyright Oskar Fischinger, 1949 and The Elfriede Fischinger Trust, 2004, all rights reserved)