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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathSound & Vision
Pyrophon (Kastner, Frédéric)

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capture music in pictures and composers also attempt to make their music visual.


One of these many apparatus builders is Frédéric Kastner, who invented his pyrophon in 1870. This new kind of instrument, which used coloured gas flames to produce light and sound at the same time, uses the physical effect of so-called «singing flames.» It is a hybrid of music and physics, of art and experiment. Making sound from light in this way promised contemporaries that they were getting closer to the cosmic harmony of nature that had been sought for so long. [9] This was why it also interested Richard Wagner, who saw it as implementing his idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk technically, and wanted to use it in his operas. But royal extravagance came to an end when Wagner's patron King Ludwig II was declared bankrupt by the Bavarian state.

Wagner's operas can be seen as early ancestors of multi-media audiovisions. This is taken up by an eloquent book title «Multimedia from Wagner to Virtual Reality» [10]

For Wagner, the individual arts of painting, dance,


music and poetry had progressed a far as they could as early as 1850. The only way forward was to synthesize them in the «Gesamtkunstwerk» he was aspiring to. For this reason the «artwork of the future» he described was ultimately to be nothing other than a Wagner opera.


After many setbacks, his vision of opera as a «Gesamtkunstwerk» was finally realized from 1873 in a strange building, which in fact looks quite ugly from the outside, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. It is only from the inside that the structure of this built ‹media machine› is revealed: an extremely deep stage created a perfect three-dimensional image, the orchestra is invisible to the spectators, being placed in a narrow sound funnel. The perfect acoustics of the semi-circular auditorium without the otherwise customary boxes compel complete concentration on what is happening on the stage, there is no glancing sideways to see ‹who's who› in the circle. Orchestra and stage are no longer seen as separate locations, music and image combine in the spectator's head. We find this principle in every cinema today, but it was

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