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Vietinghoff-Scheel's «Chromatophone,» Mary Hallock Greenewalt's «Sarabet,» Thomas Wilfred's «Clavilux,» Raoul Hausmann's «Optophone,» which was patented but never built, to name just the best known. [14] But all these approaches ended up in the same sort of cul-de-sac. They remained hybrids between work of art and apparatus. These elaborate devices showed only their inventors' compositions. They are the complete opposite of universal machines: highly specialized, individualistic machines that therefore ‹die› metaphorically with their inventors and are forgotten. None of these artist-inventors succeeded in finding successors to use and develop his invention further. This makes them different from Wagner's shrine, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which still covers its costs even though it performs only its master's works. This digression would be the story of how synaesthesia failed because it was not possible at the time to surmount the difference between aesthetic and pragmatic machines.

Early avant-garde and the audio-visual media in the 1920s


A new generation of artists started to test out the aesthetic specifics of the audio-visual media around 1920—and this is the start of the actual story of what is now called media art. The first medium they tried out was film. The pioneers include , Dziga Vertov, Man Ray, Hans Richter, László Moholy-Nagy, Viking Eggeling, and as the first, but until today the least known: Walter Ruttmann. Like most of these artists he started as a painter, but in 1918 he painted his «Untitled (Last Painting).»

His visions of an art beyond painting are so far-reaching and concrete that it is worth quoting them more fully. Ruttmann writes about the «Tempo of our times: telegraph, express trains, shorthand, photography, rapid presses … have led to a hitherto unheard-of speed in conveying intellectual results … [This] means that the individual is constantly swamped with material that can no longer be dealt with by the old methods.» This «increased speed with which individual data are wound through» also provides the «reasons for our desperate helplessness when faced with the phenomena of fine art.» For this reason Ruttmann asks for «Malerei mit Zeit» [painting with

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