Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathSound & Vision
Lohengrin Präludium (Fantin-Latour, Jean Theodore), 1877

icon: previous page

sensational at the time. Wagner's idea is justified by the success: only his operas are played to a prestigious international audience every year in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus—and the tickets are sold out five years in advance!

Contemporary painters, poets and thinkers are deeply impressed by this proto-cinema, which worked without film technology and electricity. In 1877 the prelude to Wagner's «Lohengrin» fascinated the painter Jean Jean Theodore Fantin-Latour so much that he depicted it in an picture that is almost abstract: «Lohengrin Präludium» (1877). Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Baudelaire are also among the euphoric contemporary witnesses who celebrated Wagner in their writings and helped to make him a worth forerunner of today's pop stars. Nietzsche coined the term «Hörspiel» [literally «listening play»—translator's note], which did not become common currency until later, with the invention of radio, to describe the interplay of image and sound in Wagner's work: «His art always takes him along the double route from a world as ‹Hörspiel› into a mysteriously related world as ‹Schauspiel› [literally ‹show play,› the usual word for a


stage play— translator's note], and vice versa.» [12] And Baudelaire wrote in a letter to Wagner about a synaesthetic colour experience when listening to his music, without even having been to Bayreuth. [13] This experience forms the starting point for his theory of Modernism, taking Wagner as an example. Instead of attempting a direct, objective correspondence between colours and sounds that had been sought for in vain from ancient times to the Baroque period, Wagner shifts the picture-sound coupling to its real location, subjective human perception. His universal work of art presents a complex interplay between music, theatre and stage set. Here he takes an aesthetically justified necessity and uses it to develop presentation techniques that anticipate many effects in the audio-visual media.

In fact these audio-visual media started to emerge at exactly the same time, but they were following pragmatic motives, rather than aesthetic necessity. In the year of the «Lohengrin» première, 1877, Thomas Alva Edison built a media device a long way from Bayreuth, in Menlo Park, New Jersey. This machine was the first medium recording time in human history: the

icon: next page