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Catalog No: FLX13
Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Title: Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound
Label: Flux Records
Length: 33:13
Composed: 2008-2010
Release Date: 5/4/2010
Edition Size: 200
File Under: field recordings

Tracklisting: year opus
[01] Los Angeles rosa 2010 49 5:00
[02] Los Angeles am 2009 491 0:53
[03] Los Angeles telsa 2009 480 3:16
[04] New York glockenspiel 2008 446 4:17
[05] Los Angeles bauhaus 2009 481 2:19
[06] New York meister 2008 443 2:52
[07] Los Angeles park 2009 483 4:09
[08] Los Angeles autobahn 2009 484 2:33
[09] Los Angeles signal 2009 485 2:26
[10] Los Angeles not 2009 486 1:01
[11] Los Angeles alpenglow 2009 487 2:24
[12] Los Angeles serenade 2009 488 2:03


As I walk around the house picking up pieces of gathered dust in the corners of the rooms with my bare fingers, the frame of mind is on the persnickety side. Nothing works as it should, world-weariness is knocking at the door, weather is shifting to bad yet again, the laptop’s hard disk can’t get optimized for lack of space… you know the score. It’s in moments like this that life circumstances have their way of letting us remember that we are not totally unaided. Bright brains came to Earth for something, didn’t they?
Therefore I decided to finally give a few spins to a duo of Rothkamm releases lying on the table since ages (well, last year) in the vain attempt to find a new batch of proper words to enshrine the work of a genuinely wired man as necessary. The opening item is a movie called Birth Of Primary Cinema From The Spirit Of Sound. The underlying theory, which no word of mine can synthesize here, is explained in fine detail in the “theory” section of the DVD. It deals with the inverse proportionality between the increase of the quantity of information and its comprehensibility, a notion that the artist correctly relates to the progressive stuffing of infinitesimal (read “beyond comprehension”) audio and video data into contemporary Hollywood productions, but is applicable to most everything thrown up by the media nowadays, or even to music itself. Example: bazillions of “artists” on the web and no chance to understand: not just what’s good and what’s not but what the fuck is going on. On the whole, the half-hour consists of a series of location recordings coupled with thought-provoking metropolitan stills supposedly shot in the Los Angeles area (where Rothkamm lives). Some of the pictures are linked to amassments of fixed electronic frequencies boosting a state of blank-mindedness while gazing at the screen, insecure in our role of spectators and, at the same time, victims of the future. The final snapshot sees the protagonist alone on a desert beach accompanied by an absurdly unmusical samba executed by an electric organ-cum-cheap-drum machine, a paradoxical conclusion for a mutely remarkable opus. Ultimately, “Primary Cinema” is a concept equivalent to the one according to which primeval human species developed their perception of a danger through sound; in essence, we are the ones who ought to build up the “movie” within our psychophysical systems when looking at a decodable image, yet are all too happy to let someone else decide about the noxiousness of a predetermined information – usually, that which leads to uncomfortable truths.
After that, the 73-plus minutes of Amerika – a solo recital on a 1954 Wurlitzer Spinet Piano co-released with Bad Alchemy – may appear as the ironic culmination of a period of profound reflections, or the German utopist’s will to throw the listener back to an age in which the elaboration of organized acoustic signals (translation: memorizing a record) was still possible. There’s a problem: the material is far from being easily classifiable – not that there were doubts – and so bumpily various and rhythmically unstable that we tend to perceive the breathy gaps in Rothkamm’s now dissonantly enigmatic, now coolly impertinent (and occasionally hyper-minimalist) variations as inevitable episodes of anxiety in anticipation of some kind of harmonic catastrophe. There is a smell of dusty ancientness in the air – think “elderly piano teacher getting frustrated by the student’s disinclination to follow a given instruction” – which kills any pernicious tendency of a psyche fancying a bath in über-modernism; a sense of old-fashioned attractiveness prevails, allowing the audience to enjoy the nearly childish yet technically evolved digital abstruseness of a man whose sensibility is at such a high level that the next step can only result in unconditional cynicism. Needless to say, we’ll be among the first in the queue of the followers, also because Rothkamm’s dedication for looking for outside-the-rails melodies complemented by edgy counterpoints is quite close to this writer’s own methods of expressing “the urge”.

Frank Rothkamm will need little introduction for Furthernoise readers. He has been both a contributor and guest reviewer, and continues to push the boundaries of conceptual music, sound and film theory within contemporary media discourse. This review examines what he describes as the final chapter in his self proclaimed "Magnus Opus", as the final Tetralogy encompassing the Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound DVD, and accompanying soundtrack Amerika. They are at once, both an aesthetic artifact, and critique of current philosophy behind Hollywood motion picture making, serving to highlight issues of human perception in an age of pixel-event overload.

In 1994 the composer Michel Chion commented, “the question of listening with the ear is inseparable from that of listening with the mind, just as looking is with seeing. In other words, in order to describe perceptual phenomena, we must take into account that conscious and active perception is only one part of a wider perceptual field in operation. In the cinema to look is to explore, at once spatially and temporally, in a “given-to-see” (field of vision) that has limits contained by the screen. But listening, for its part, explores in a field of audition that is given or even imposed on the ear, this aural field is much less limited or confined, its contours uncertain and changing” [1].

Chion suggests that to comprehend “perceptual phenomena”, we must look to the modalities of listening as a way of understanding our relationship to it. His writings on sound in cinema are acute in their observations of the psychological nature of the fusion of sound and image, arguing that it is only by understanding how one listens to sound, that its role in deciphering the moving image becomes clear. In his DVD Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound, Frank Rothkamm develops a related notion, focusing on how sound can once again facilitate an engagement with the single image. He suggests that in order to create ever bigger cinematic spectacles, Hollywood loads so much action-as-information (colour pixels, events, frequency) into each frame, that we are losing the ability to enjoy and comprehend the single image. He argues that auditory perception becomes principal mediator in our understanding of the single image, intimating that in this scenario, “sound is the primary cinema” and, "in an attempt to find meaning, our auditory perception is heightened to compensate for the lack of visual clues”. Echoing Chion's "listening with the mind", to once again re-view the single image, as heard by consciousness.

To illustrate this Rothkamm has produced a series of single image short films, shot in the wilds outside Los Angeles. They are one-shot vignettes of natural locations with near imperceptible movement or change, apart from small camera movements or a breeze on shrubbery or the dust of the desert soil. They are snapshots in time, accompanied by a non-diagetic soundtrack of what might be described as new classical music piano pieces, played on Wurlitzer piano sourced from a city thrift shop (UK charity shop). Some of these tracks are original compositions and others deconstruct melodic fragments of known tunes such as “Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child”. They are well executed, single take performances, which as always with Rothkamm inject an atmosphere of ambiguity into the work, and reminiscent of the accompaniment to silent films in dusty old cinemas of the 1950's. What is interesting is the use of sound not implied to be present in the scene, which might have been tempting, even if it were subtle location atmospheres. What this achieves is a temporal trajectory in an otherwise suspended time flow. In Rothkamm’s words “sound is not a soundtrack added to images but it appears that images arise from sounds[…] the image is born from sound”.

The Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound is shot in high definition film, dynamically recreating a marking of space-by-time in a mise-en-scène loaded with meaning rather than action. Released as a DVD and CD soundtrack, the collection of films are also available to view in lower resolution on YouTube, serving as a conceptual commentary on what Rothkamm describes will “exoterically entice[s] the YouTube self to see everything that is and not is […] to represent a supermodern antithesis to YouTube via YouTube”. This is an important conceptual work contributing much to the discussion on the intellectual effects of pumping ever more action and special effects into each frame, as the Hollywood Inc.'s compete to out do each other. It also draws attention to the results of such "pixel fatigue" on our attention spans and perception of the "single image" inherent in the environments we inhabit but think nothing about. Rothkamm reminds us, that as we have become used to absorbing vast amounts of visual and audio stimuli, the more we see the less we understand.

Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound and Amerika act as both theoretical critique and educational artifacts that should be included as core indicative texts in all film and sound design courses. Rothkamm makes insightful observations about the ability of the Holllywood motion picture to ever satiate "spectacle-tolerant" minds, craving more pixels per frame, while forgetting what it is to look at, and comprehend the single image.

View Films


Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

The Band Plays On

Pomp and Circumstance

Your in the Army Now


[1] Chion, M (1994) Audio Vision: Sound on Screen, Columbia University Press.


    * Alog / Astral Social Club Split #20 (Fat Cat) 12”
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    * K11 Waiting For the Darkness (AFE) CD
    * Thomas Köner Nunatak (Type) LP
    * Baris Manco 2023 (Turkuola) LP
    * Frank Rothkamm Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound (Flux) DVD
    * Henrik Rylander Power Model X (Motherboard Drone Live) (Ideal) CD
    * Camille Sauvage 7 Drums Concerto (Crea Sound) LP
    * Various Artists Forbidden Planets: Music from the Pioneers of Electronic Sound (Chrome Dreams) CD


It is recommended to go for a ride on the teeming website of Frank Rothkamm to learn on this DVD, and even to have it explained. Third part of a "Tetralogy" may present two separate films: it is understood, the object is conceptual and its viewing persists.

Twelve chapters. So many judgments on sound and illustrations to you with or against, it also depends on the times ... A camera placed on the ground for example, shows a detail of streets, but the sound is a complete mismatch, another camera fixed forever in a building at night, but the laughter you hear are those of children playing in a playground. Sometimes they is a simply knocking that acts as sound design, other times a discussion between two artists or a composition that involves an unreal vibraphone play the same role.

Another image also shows a huge boulevard (the U.S. city obsesses Rothkamm, we will understand) when we hear the sound of the wind. Suddenly, it seems - and I still do not know if this is an optical illusion or even an audio illusion - that the image waves.

Then you can feel that something is happening. Unable to continue to be doubtful: in its air of audiovisual composition a bit easy, "Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound" has lied before to reveal a mesmerizing ode dedicated to the music of a frozen world.

-- original French --

Il est recommandé d’aller faire un tour sur le foisonnant site internet de Frank Rothkamm pour en apprendre sur ce DVD, et même pour se le faire expliquer. Troisième partie d’une « Tetralogy » pouvant présenter deux films distincts : on l’aura compris, l’objet est conceptuel et son visionnage persiste.

Douze chapitres. Autant d’arrêts sur images et d’illustrations sonores qui vous avec ou contre, cela aussi dépend des fois... Une caméra posée au sol montre par exemple un détail de rue mais le son est en complet décalage ; une autre caméra fixe pour toujours un immeuble dans la nuit mais les rires qu’on entend sont ceux d’enfants jouant dans une cour de récréation. Quelques fois, ce sont de simples cliquetis qui font office d’habillage sonore, d’autres fois une discussion entre deux artistes ou une composition qui fait intervenir un vibraphone irréel jouera le même rôle.

Une autre image encore montre un boulevard immense (la ville américaine obsède Rothkamm, on l’aura compris) alors que l’on entend le bruit du vent. Tout à coup, on dirait – et je ne sais toujours pas si cela tient d’une illusion d’optique ou même d'une illusion sonore – que l’image ondule. On sent alors qu’il se passe quelque chose. Impossible de continuer à être dubitatif : sous ses airs de composition audiovisuelle un peu facile, Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound a menti avant de se révéler en Ode envoûtante dédiée à la musique du monde figé.
Pierre Cecile LE SON DU GRISLI

Though the two don't directly correspond, it's clear that Frank Rothkamm's DVD release "Birth of Primary Cinema From The Spirit of Sound" is meant to be experienced for its visual components as much as it is the audible. I guess that's obvious, what with the title of the release and the fact that it's a DVD and everything. But usually the juxtapositions to be found are too bizarre to make any kind of palpable sense at face value. An outdoor night shot of an apartment building is cut with a field recording of children playing in "Glockenspiel" (a quiet, nocturnal image placed alongside a busy, daytime-set soundtrack). An empty studio space is filled with random high-pitched micro-blips in "Bauhaus."

But in the absurdist world within which Rothkamm works, this "supermodernist" art is nonetheless mesmerizing—both of these elements separately, but especially when taken together as the whole in which they're presented. "Birth of Primary Cinema" is a series of still images, many of them striking in terms of their color and composition (rich tones, delicately beautiful geometries, subtle shading and motion sometimes violently removed from its subjects), each introduced with odd musical counterparts of static drones, shifting electronic ambience, field recordings and the like. And, as Rothkamm demonstrates, these curious combinations can ultimately be a source of humor, especially "Serenade," the album's last official track that pairs a man walking in a vast, flat expanse of land below a mountain range with an uber-cheesy MIDI synth samba groove as accompanying music. A light jab to anyone who might be taking the ominous tone of some of the album's previous tracks a little too seriously.

The explanatory text in the culminating "theory" track (titled "Rosa" on the disc's packaging), coupled with the liner notes, are key in terms of making some sense of Rothkamm's musico-philosophical approach to the suturing of image and sound. He's an artist who's interested in pushing, conflating, and questioning traditional understandings of what film is (or can aspire to be). One of the main ideas is that to remove motion from cinema unlocks a hyper-direct notion of reality within the medium's capabilities, as human perception of this phenomenon through film has up to now been illusory only (a mere string of static images), and is thus a poor approximation of reality. His solution to this dilemma is inherently tied to the music in that the sounds used add the missing element to keep these from being merely photographs—an auditory tool to represent time. So in targeting Hollywood and modern cinema (evidenced in one particular track, "Signal," which is a shot of the famous Hollywood letters sign, perhaps from the vantage point Rothkamm later describes in "Rosa") and its insistence on clinging tight to this creation of false reality, Rothkamm is after a bigger picture here.

It comes in the form of a complex puzzle that requires patience to piece together. In fact, I'm only beginning to unpack this thing. It's the type of composition that brings a museum's multimedia installation into your living room or onto your laptop (I recommend the latter, mainly for ease of headphone use with this). Some of these pieces can be tough to sit through, but that's not necessarily because they aren't interesting. Rather, the supermodernist approach arrives as a great challenge. In a world where music and videos are so constantly, consistently force-fed to us through blogs, etc. (yes, I'm guilty of doing a lot of the force-feeding), it's becoming too easy to negate the art of music. Maybe it's time we started working as hard as the work of art itself again.

It feels strange and wrong to tack a numbered evaluation on a piece like this, or even to write a review. This goes beyond lazy associations of "good" or "bad." Rothkamm's work (and the work of other supermodernists) deserves further investigation, analysis, essays, research…this stuff has “critical theory thesis paper” written all over it, wading through themes that recall thinkers like Lyotard, Barthes or Deleuze—stuff I haven't given much thought to in a few years now. Maybe someday I'll give a go at tackling this head-on. For now, this DVD is just plain fascinating.
Crawford Philleo FOXY DIGITALIS

A moment suspended in a long, involuntary reflection Frank Rothkamm a study window front of the hill where the Hollywood sign hanging over Los Angeles, and the writing, the written one, moving all types of mental link. Then a trip by plane to Copenhagen and a dream, a rude awakening, staring sull'oblò and the clouds that flow like a daguerreotype, and even those links, slow but obsessive thoughts forming in his mind. What is cinema today? Where is the film going? How many and what types of bombing affected our brain? It can withstand, hinges, focus and steal thousands of images that is unintentionally but constantly subjected? Why the movies of today no longer interests the single frame, no longer seeks interaction with an audience looking for visual and emotional moments, no longer believes that image is too long development of ideas, visual art. Only a single, endless bombing in style of our brain, no savings, in fact, increasing the massive evil. Increases supply in 3D, daily increases the pixels, the digital door to greater definition of detail, but not to increase the ability to pick up: no, I do not want the cinema of today, who wants to rise to the tombs of the Marx Brothers, Murnau, Fritz Lang, Leni Riefenstahl, of all those of expression and expressionism art film made, and those stones will raise a new poster, decreeing the death of their baby. The ashes of cinema as an expression of a new empire similar images, 'spam' repeated our brain that has only view, not understanding. Frank says no Rothkamm and his Germanic spirit, which has deeply rooted in the DNA film / art, gives us a solution, different, capture images. This was the third installment of a tetralogy that you're offering Rothkamm, polymorphic and visionary artist from Germany years ago and settled in the States and bring his music, not only as sound but as an art form, here in "Birth of Primary Cinema From The Spirit Of Sound "is installation media, twelve beautiful images in high resolution on your monitor will scroll slowly. Three minutes and twelve times for each image to taste, see, enjoy the colors in the night. Twelve photographs intended as a still-image film, now on standby to find archetypal identity. Sometimes music (but we are in the territories of the twelve-tone testing), sometimes just noise extracted from the reference. Then there's the interior with neon light of the "Bauhaus" and the urban image with the voices of children and the bells of "Glockenspiel", the car parked overnight in the city while the other side whizzing cars. There's the highway, the rain, the horns and sirens of "Autobahn", is the hill where the Hollywood sign is not even the top, a privilege granted to a huge antenna in "Signal" occurs with magnetic radiated sound frequency. Above all, there's "Serenade" and his immense contrast between the samba, made a simple keyboard with pre-recorded backing, lively and festive, and the solitude of a man lost in an arena desolate and bleak. An image full of symbolism to be fixed for its entire duration. "Birth of Cinema From The Primary Spirit Of Sound" is a DVD image in the twelve proposals has ambitions to be an installation to be exhibited in the modern house: our huge, homemade plasma screens become colorful canvases from images, not paradox is to imagine our living room as a pavilion of art, television as a metaphor and a source of active meditation. Rothkamm Frank wants to stop the film, oblige us to understand a little 'more, instigating no longer passive, no longer, at least twenty-eight minutes and two seconds. Try to dedicate at twelve pictures-eight minutes and two seconds you will feel like eternity, now is time to rule our lives.

-- original italian ---

Un attimo sospeso in una lunga, involontaria riflessione: Frank Rothkamm ha una finestra dello studio frontale alla collina ove l'insegna di Hollywood incombe su Los Angeles, e la scritta, quella scritta, muove ogni tipo di link mentale. Poi un viaggio, ed in aereo verso Copenhagen un sogno, un brusco risveglio, gli occhi fissi sull'oblò e sulle nuvole che scorrono come un dagherrotipo, ed ancora quei link, lenti ma ossessivi che formano nella sua mente pensieri. Cos'è il cinema oggi? Dove sta andando la cinematografia? Quanti e quali tipi di bombardamenti subisce il nostro cervello? È in grado di sopportare, cernire, focalizzare e carpire le migliaia di immagini a cui è involontariamente ma costantemente sottoposto? Perché al cinema di oggi non interessa più il singolo fotogramma, non cerca più l'interazione con un pubblico in cerca di attimi visivi ed emotivi, non crede più da tempo che immagine sia anche sviluppo d'idee, arte visiva. Solo un unico, interminabile bombardamento in grande stile del nostro cervello, senza risparmio, anzi, incrementandone la massiva cattiveria. Aumenta l'offerta in 3D, quotidianamente aumentano i pixel, il digitale porta ad una maggiore definizione del dettaglio, ma non per aumentare la capacità di captarlo: no, non lo vuole il cinema di oggi, che vuole innalzarsi sulle tombe dei fratelli Marx, di Murnau, di Fritz Lang, di Leni Riefenstahl, di tutti coloro che di espressione e di espressionismo cinematografico hanno fatto arte, e su quelle lapidi vuole innalzarne un nuovo manifesto, decretare la morte della loro creatura. Sulle ceneri del cinema come espressione un nuovo impero d'immagini non assimilate, 'spam' ripetuto per il nostro cervello che deve solo visualizzare, non capire. Frank Rothkamm dice no ed il suo spirito germanico, che ha ben radicato nel DNA il cinema/arte, ci offre una sua soluzione, diversa: bloccare le immagini. Siamo alla terza puntata della tetralogia che vi stiamo offrendo di Rothkamm, artista polimorfico e visionario partito dalla Germania anni fa per stabilirsi negli States e proporre la sua musica, intesa non solo come suono ma come forma d'arte; qui in "Birth Of Primary Cinema From The Spirit Of Sound" è installazione mediatica, dodici immagini bellissime in alta risoluzione che scorreranno lentamente sul vostro monitor. Tre minuti circa per ogni immagine e dodici momenti da degustare, osservare, godere nei colori, nei notturni. Dodici fotografie intese come fermo-immagine del cinema, ora in stand-by per ritrovare un'identità archetipica. A volte musica (siamo però nei territori della sperimentazione dodecafonica), a volte solo rumore estratto dall'ambiente di riferimento. Allora c'è l'interno con luce al neon di "Bauhaus" o l'immagine urbana con le voci dei bambini ed i campanellini di "Glockenspiel", l'automobile parcheggiata nel notturno urbano mentre di lato sfrecciano altre automobili. C'è l'autostrada, la pioggia, i clacson e le sirene di "Autobahn", c'è quella collina dove la scritta Hollywood non è nemmeno il top, privilegio concesso ad un'enorme antenna che in "Signal" si manifesta con suoni magnetici di frequenze irradiate. Soprattutto c'è "Serenade" ed il suo immenso contrasto tra il samba, composto ad una semplice tastiera con basi preregistrate, vivace e festoso, e la solitudine di un uomo perso in un'arena desolata e desolante. Un'immagine ricca di simbolismi da fissare per tutta la sua durata. "Birth Of Primary Cinema From The Spirit Of Sound" è un DVD che nelle dodici immagini proposte ha la velleità di essere un'installazione moderna da esibire in casa: i nostri immensi, casalinghi schermi al plasma diventano le tele colorate dalle immagini, e non è paradosso immaginare il nostro salotto come padiglione d'arte, la TV come metafora e fonte di meditazione attiva. Frank Rothkamm vuole fermare il cinema, obbligarci a capire un po' di più, istigarci a non essere più passivi, non più, almeno per ventotto minuti e due secondi. Provate a dedicarvi alle dodici immagini: ventotto minuti e due secondi vi sembreranno eterni, oggi è il tempo a comandare la nostra vita.

When mail does arrive from Los Angeles, it is mostly from Frank Rothkamm - the sound artist in exile - and it is usually an experimental package. So this time, "Birth of Cinema from the Primary Spirit of Sound", the third part of a tetralogy, is a musical experiment in images, to come closer to the myth of Hollywood. On a theoretical level, there is a deliberate slowdown: film consists of a sequence of 24 frames per second that can not be perceived by the eye - movement is an illusion. But what does modern man do out of the fact that there is more and more information in the world that he understands less and less? Rothkamm attempted an answer: In Rothkamm's creation of the "psycho-cybernetic dimension" the viewer itself produces the film, while he sees an image that changes every few minutes. The visual seconds just keeps getting longer and separate from the acoustic. This is exactly what you get to see on this DVD, combined with experimental electronic sound constructions. Sounds exhausting? It's meditative!

-- original German --

Wenn Post aus Los Angeles kommt, dann meist von Frank Rothkamm, dem exilierten Klangkünstler, und meist ist darin was Experimentelles eingepackt. So auch dieses Mal: "Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound", der dritte Teil einer Tetralogie, ist ein musikalischer Versuch in Bildern, sich dem Mythos Hollywood anzunähern. Auf theoretischer Ebene geht es um eine bewusste Verlangsamung: Film besteht aus einer Aneinanderreihung von 24 Bildern pro Sekunde, die das Auge nicht wahrnehmen kann - es lässt sich eine Bewegung vortäuschen. Was aber macht der moderne Mensch aus der Tatsache, dass es immer mehr Informationen auf der Welt gibt, die er immer weniger versteht? Rothkamm versucht eine Antwort: In der von ihm imaginierten "psycho-cybernetischen Dimension" erzeugt der Zuschauer selbst den Film, während er auf ein Bild sieht, das sich nur alle paar Minuten ändert. Die visuelle Sekunde wird einfach immer länger und separiert sich von der akustischen. Genau das bekommt man auf dieser DVD zu sehen, gepaart mit experimentellen elektronischen Klanggebäuden. Klingt anstrengend? Ist meditativ!

Synopsis: Birth Of Primary Cinema From The Spirit Of Sound is a DVD by German-American artist Frank Rothkamm, packaged in a shrink-wrapped vinyl record-style sleeve. Alluding to Hollywood’s heavy-handed creation of action-as-information, Rothkamm argues that the visually packed frame in contemporary cinema had caused viewers to lose their ability to enjoy and comprehend the single image, as we are now in a state of perpetual anticipation. By suggesting that auditory perception becomes the principal mediator in our understanding of the single image, Rothkamm intimates that sound can facilitate a new engagement with the visual frame.

As the third episode of a digital, esoteric and contemporary tetralogy, which began with "Ghost Of New York", in "Birth Of Primary Cinema From The Spirit Of Sound" Frank Holger Rothkamm still effectively penetrates urban landscapes, putting a fixed camera at ground level during the night, picking up fragments of humanity, beats, laughter, ethereal resonances and discussions about art and the world that result in imaginative and restless reverberations that are not without lyrical characterizations. Here, theory and practice overlap: our comprehension is no longer able to process or understand the individual image. Empirical and random "segmentation techniques", then, are used to give rise to a semantics of images through sounds, the evident emergence of a "stream of consciousness" of the inhabited areas; a complex and "supermodern" line of reasoning that starts from a reflection on cinema not far removed from Deleuze's "The Movement-Image" and "The Time-Image"- two eighties texts that can still, apparently, offer interesting interpretations.
Aurelio Cianciotta NEURAL.IT

L’œil humain décode 24 images par seconde, mais à ce rythme, le cerveau ne perçoit plus ces images comme distinctes, elles deviennent un flux. Alors pourquoi ne pas ramener le cinéma à son élément primaire - l’image - et laisser le cerveau interpréter du mouvement, du changement, là où il n’y en a pas, en se laissant influencer par la bande-son. Cet homme danse-t-il au son de la boîte à rythmes de “Serenade”? Voit-on la pluie tomber sur les voitures de “Autobahn”? Rothkamm, magicien conceptuel et prestidigitateur perceptuel, propose 11 vignettes sonores allant de l’électronique épurée au “field recording” urbain, diffusées en format 5.1, chacune assortie d’une photographie de New York ou d’Hollywood (superbes, d’ailleurs, les photos) qui persiste à l’écran. Certaines coupures sont franches et raides, d’autres sont fondues. Le tout fait un peu moins d’une demi-heure, un peu plus si on ajoute la pièce bonie, sous le chapitre “Theory” (le programme principal est titré “Praxis”), où Rothkamm explique, à travers une anecdote, l’approche qui sous-tend l’œuvre. C’est confondant mais pas confus, éclectique mais pas déglingué. En fait, c’est diantrement bien pensé et plus accessible que bien d’autres projets de Rothkamm. Cela dit, avec chaque nouveau volet de “Tetralogy” (celui-ci est le troisième; le calendrier de parution a pris beaucoup de retard), je vois de moins en moins le fil conducteur entre les œuvres...

The human can decode 24 images per second, but at that rate, the brain doesn’t see these images as separate evenths, but as a flux. So why not bring back cinema to its primary component – the image – and let the brain interpret movement or change out of a static image, with influential help from the soundtrack? So is this man actually dancing to the beatbox beat of “Serenade”? And am I seeing rain fall on the cars of “Autobahn”? Rothkamm, conceptual magician and perceptual trickster, delivers 11 sound vignettes ranging from pure electronics to urban field recording, presented in 5.1 surround sound, each paired to a photograph of New York or Hollywood (splendid photographs, I might add) that just stick to the TV screen. Some cuts are straight and brutal, others fade out/in. The whole thing lasts a little under half an hour, or a little over half an hour if you take in the “bonus track” tucked un the chapter called “Theory” (the main program is titled “Praxis”), where Rothkamm explains, using an anecdote, the approach underpinning the work, through rolling on-screen text. It’s confusing though not confused, eclectic though not hectic. Actually, it’s darned well thought out and more accessible than most of Rothkamm’s other projects. That said, each new installment in the “Tetralogy” series (this is number three, the release schedule has been pushed back) makes me wonder even more how all the pieces will fit together...
François Couture MONSIEUR DELIRE

A screen that gradually brightens to become a "blank page" on which Frank Holger Rothkamm wrote in a way his diary: "It's about 11 o'clock in the morning in my studio in Los Angeles. I look out the window and stare the Hollywood sign in the distance. The phone never rings ..." Almost Here we are. For fun, a drone illustrates the gravity of time ... the heart of the discussions Frank Rothkamm, cinema, he considers the first form of digital art because of its sequential 24 frames per second. An art of illusion also because you can not "see" an image "simple", "first", no more than we can apprehend a noumenon by Kantian philosophy ... After other similar considerations on perception, understanding and imagination "in relation" to the image, we can move to praxis. Divided into 12 chapters ("Glockenspiel", "Bauhaus", "Park," "Autobahn," "Signal", "Serenade", etc..), The second part of this DVD depicts static shots (one street at night , shed, buildings), illustrated by the ambient noise-or field-recordings. This audio-video work for less conceptual is the 3rd part of a "tetralogy" centered on the concept of psycho-geography, urban ...

original french

Un écran qui s'éclaircit progressivement jusqu'à devenir une "page blanche" sur laquelle Frank Holger Rothkamm écrit en quelque sorte son journal de bord : It's about 11 o'clock in the morning in my studio in Los Angeles. I look out the window and stare the Hollywood sign in the distance. The phone almost never rings… Nous y sommes. Pour l'ambiance, un drone illustre la pesanteur du temps qui passe… Au centre des réflexions de Frank Rothkamm, le cinéma, qu'il considère comme la première forme d'art digital pour cause de séquentialisation en 24 images par seconde. Un art de l'illusion également puisqu'on ne peut pas "voir" une image "simple", "première", pas plus qu'on ne peut appréhender un noumène selon la philosophie kantienne… Après d'autres considérations du même ordre sur la perception, la compréhension et l'imagination "au regard" de l'image, on peut passer à la praxis. Divisée en 12 chapitres ("Glockenspiel", "Bauhaus", "Park", "Autobahn", "Signal", "Serenade", etc.), la deuxième partie de ce DVD met en scène des plans fixes (une rue la nuit, un hangar, des immeubles), illustrés par de l'ambient-noise ou des field-recordings. Cette œuvre audio-vidéo pour le moins conceptuelle est la 3ème partie d'une "tétralogie" centrée sur la notion de psycho-géographie urbaine…

Der gebürtige Deutsche Frank Rothkamm arbeitet sowohl als Komponist als auch als Konzeptkünstler und lebt dementsprechend multiaktiv in Los Angeles. Wobei er auf der DVD „Birth ...“ eine Ebene mit der anderen mischt und Computermusikstücke, field recordings und Gesprächsfetzen mit je einem Standbild hinterlegt – und das Ganze überraschend als Film interpretiert. Auch insofern klingt das Resultat keineswegs so überzeugend wie etwa beim ebenfalls zweigleisig fahrenden Carsten Nicolai/Alva Noto (siehe Platten der Monate Juni/Juli, freiStil #31), der in beiden Genres voneinander unabhängig etwas Markantes zuwege bringt. Einigermaßen erschwerend kommt hinzu, dass Rothkamm für seine akustische und optische Praxis ein Theoriegebäude in Höhe eines Wolkenkratzers vor uns auftürmt. In diesem Hochhaus, auf das man mit steif werdendem Genick hinaufzublicken hat, tritt er nicht nur als Erzähler, sondern auch als Protagonist seiner Erzählung auf, die ihn gleich als Vertreter eines „Supermodernismus“ und einer „utopischen Wissenschaft“ feiert. Darunter macht er’s wohl nicht. Dabei hätten die eingängigen Sounds (mit Ausnahme einer Bontempi-Nummer) und die netten Bilder soviel Wichtigtun gar nicht nötig.

The third part in Rothkamm trilogy is a DVD release. Its looks a real film thing, and there are images on the thing. Which, knowing the conceptual odds and ends of Rothkamm, is perhaps a bit of a surprise.

But its hardly a movie, I'd say.

Each track contains a static image of life in the big city. Maybe Los Angeles, where Rothkamm lives? It comes with a 'press text', which hardly says more than I can understand, which, in this case, is not a lot. Its juts very hard to understand this particular release.
Frans de Waard VITAL WEEKLY