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Title: Electronic Oscillography in Early 1950s Experimental Film
Authors: Bräuer, Stefanie
Keywords: oscillography
electronic arts
film history
history of science
visual music
Issue Date: 18-Oct-2017
Abstract: The proposed paper focuses on the historical genealogies of contemporary electronic imaging, particularly on the appropriated use of a specific electro-engineering technique within early 1950s experimental film making. Oscillograms produced by electronic picture tubes have visualized and measured oscillatory phenomena, such as alternating current, since 1897. Through films by Mary Ellen Bute, Hy Hirsh, and Norman McLaren from the years 1951-53, this procedure was introduced into an artistic realm. The systematic treatment of electronic imaging in the arts occurred since the 1960s, which is why these rather isolated examples were created before the emergence of electronic arts and may be understood as pioneering work. Despite oscillographics’ relevance for a history of electronic images, one finds only scattered remarks on these early film examples. This might be due to the classification of these abstract animated films within Visual Music. This field constituted itself through late 19th and early 20th century endeavors to correlate the senses of hearing and seeing which, among others, resulted in abstract visual forms derived from auditory sensations. The electronic oscilloscope, as a recorder of oscillations operating across the distinct realms of the audible and the visible, offered itself to such an investigation of intermedia correspondences. By determining the relationship between the heterogeneous actors involved in the production of these hybrid films, the proposed paper wishes to challenge set divisions within the history of media arts and pursues a contribution to the intersection connecting history of science, art history and media studies.
Description: Biography: Stefanie Bräuer (*1986) received her master’s degree in art history in 2013 from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, with a thesis titled “Material on the Pictorial Surface – Tape as a Materialized Line in the Work of Mondrian, Newman, and Posenenske.“ During her studies she contributed to numerous projects at the intersection of art history and the history of science, including the exhibition “WeltWissen: 300 Jahre Wissenschaften in Berlin” (2010/11), the project “Materielle Modelle in Forschung und Lehre” at the Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik (until 2012) and Heisenberg fellow PD Dr. Dr. Erna Fiorentini’s project “Induction of Visibility” (until 2013). Since early 2014 she pursues a doctoral thesis on oscillography in early 1950s experimental film at the institute for media studies at Universität Basel, supervised by Prof. Dr. Ute Holl and Prof. Dr. Isabel Wünsche (Jacobs University Bremen) which she continues at the Centre allemand d'histoire de l'art in Paris during a research stay funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Stefanie Bräuer published on the artists Charlotte Posenenske and Eric Hattan, on the embryologist Wilhelm His, and on the filmmaker Mary Ellen Bute.
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