Light Shows/Multimedia Shows

1 Color Light Instruments

Among the first visionaries to anticipate that light could be created and manipulated in the way that organized sound is produced on a musical instrument was the French Jesuit mathematician Louis-Bertrand Castel, who in the mid-1720s drafted a Clavecin oculaire. Castel’s concepts were modified and applied by inventors and theorists such as Johann Gottlob Krüger in the following century. From the mid-nineteenth century, the possibilities of such mechanical color organs were radically expanded through technical innovations and the advent of electrically produced and projected light. Alexander Wallace Rimington was the first to implement electric light in his color organ from 1893.

Whereas these earlier color organs were mostly based on assumptions about correspondences between colors and musical tones, in the decades before World War II more and more artists advocated an independent art of light. Among these was Thomas Wilfred, who developed ideas for an abstract and silent art of light, which he called lumia. Starting in 1919, he constructed different versions of his Clavilux and gave concerts of his compositions for this instrument in both Europe and the United States, inspiring several important abstract filmmakers. Beginning in the late 1930s, Charles Dockum built his Mobilcolor Projector, giving many concerts on it in which both abstract color and imagery were projected in space in counterpoint with music. Dockum was working on his MobilColor VI, with plans for its computerization, when he died in 1977.