Frank Rothkamm [ Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound ]

In the beginning there is the question of relevance and rapture. It's a deeply personal one. During the disturbing era of the financial collapse of 2008, a film arose as an examination of the time and it arose in spite of it. While the thunderclap signalling the largest decline of real estate values since the Great Depression was reverberating across the world, a friend of contemplation and enigmas sat somewhere in a corner of New York. His fate was to sell his apartment and to make this film. His state of mind was reflective and perplexed, thus simultaneously stressed and carefree. So suffering, he did the math and wrote down his thoughts on Hollywood. This preface (or postscript) is dedicated to the kernel of what would emerge as a wonderful, yet hardly accessible film. After a year had passed, he found himself in Los Angeles. He still hadn't erased the question mark he wrote at the end of the word "Hollywood". Then, in the month of deepest tension, when year-end bonuses were negotiated on Wall Street, he finally started to finish the BIRTH OF PRIMARY CINEMA FROM THE SPIRIT OF SOUND. From Sound? Sound and Primary Cinema? Hollywood and the Sound of Primary Cinema? Hollywood and the artwork of Supermodernism? How can this be? Does Hollywood need Primary Cinema? What's more… Utopian Science?

What he seized upon is something fearsome and dangerous. It is a problem with horns, not necessarily a whole bull, but at any rate a new problem. He states that it is the problem of science itself, as science is now understood to be problematic and questionable. Thus a utopian science was created only out of personal experiences dwelling on the border of perception, and it was built on the foundation of art, because the problem of science cannot be understood on the basis of science. Perhaps, this is a film for artists with analytical tendencies and a capacity for retrospection; an artist that is full of psychological innovations, secrets and metaphysics. It is the sort of film which is good for "the best people of its time." For that reason this film should be handled with some consideration and discretion because the work dares not only to look at science through the lens of the artist, but to look at art from the perspective of life.

Let me say this again: it is an impossible film. I call it poorly written, slow moving, childish, obsessed with image, sentimental, uneven in tempo, without any will for logical clarity, very self-confident and distrustful of evidence, even distrustful of the relevance of evidence, like a film for the initiated. It is "music" for those baptized into music, for those that have in common rare and shared art experiences. It is a token of recognition among the blood relatives in art. But it is also a film. Its effects continue to seek out all of us and tempt us to new pathways and dance floors. At any rate, here speaks a strange voice. People admit this with as much curiosity as aversion: the voice is the disciple of a yet "unknown God," who momentarily hides in the guise of a learned man, under the heavy and humourless dialectics of the German man. Here is a spirit with alien, even nameless needs; a memory filled with questions, experiences and secrets, where the name Supermodernism is written like a question mark. Here speaks, so people say with suspicion, a mystical and infuriated soul that stumbles with difficulty into a foreign tongue, uncertain whether it wants to communicate or hide. This "new soul" should have sung, not spoken. Ultimately, there is a problem right here. As before, Hollywood will continue to remain entirely unknown and unknowable as long as we have no answer to the question: "What is Supermodernism?" This film offers an answer.


It is about 11 o'clock in the morning
in my studio in Los Angeles.

I look out the window and stare
at the Hollywood sign in the distance.

The phone almost never rings.

If it does, I pick up and nobody is on the line.

After a while my mind drifts
and a single thought forms in my head
and stays there.

As the rate of information is increasing,
so is its comprehensibility decreasing.

I realize that this is especially true for
motion pictures,
the first digital art form, because
they are made of single images
floating by at the rate of
24 frames per second.

At this rate, we perceive these images
as continuous motion.

Because of the high rate of
images per second, or,
of information given per second,
our brain ­­­–
or let me use a word from Kant's brain:
the understanding ­­­–
can no longer process or understand
the single image.

The evolution of modern cinema
in Hollywood has only increased
the misunderstanding of the single image
by constantly increasing the rate of
information per second.

My eyes drift back to the Hollywood sign.

Motion pictures are based on an illusion.

Motion pictures are based on an illusion
resulting from the impossibility
to understand a single image.

Furthermore, the rate and the amount
of this illusion are on the rise.

More and more events occur per minute
and information on the screen
increases proportionally
to the increase in resolution
of picture and sound.

Everything goes up:

The average number
of differently colored pixels,
the amount of things on the screen,
the number of audible frequencies,
and the amount of sound events.

This happens both to
how movies are made,
what they are made of.

Hollywood's motion pictures
are on the verge of becoming black holes.

Everything gets sucked into them,
but nothing gets out.

Everything starts to pass us by
but we begin to understand nothing.

I fly back to New York.
Later, I take an overnight flight to

It starts fine, food is served early
and they even have wine and cognac.

I close my eyes and try to sleep,
but after an hour I give up.

So, I stare out the window
and watch the morning sun over the clouds.

Suddenly I don't feel well,
panic sets in,
and I see the sky falling
just before I black out.

When I finally return to consciousness,
I see a single image.

Danish flight attendants
are leaning over me.

Sound slowly fades back in,
people are talking to me.

I try to understand what is going on.

This takes me a very long time,
sounds float by me
and I relate what I see
to that what I hear.

I cling to the sound.

For the rest of the flight,
I'm in the rear of the aircraft
attached to an oxygen mask.

All I can do is breath
and prevent reality from falling apart.

The illusion of Hollywood's cinema
will be turned right side up again.

Instead of increasing
the images per second,
time will be imploded.

There will be only a few images
that change in galactic time spans.

The changes will be almost imperceptible
and distributed randomly
like dark energy in the universe.

Thusly created,
a cinema that reaches
for the outer limits of perception
will destroy
the dominant illusion of reality.

Only if a single image is confronted
over the course of many minutes,
the brain,
the understanding,
will create changes.

In the simplest form,
we will look at a different part
of the minutely changing motion picture.

So a mental process is set in motion
in us,
the opening
of the psycho-cybernetic dimension.

In an attempt to find meaning
our auditory perception is heightened
to compensate for the lack of visual clues.

Sound is primary.

I continue to breathe
through the oxygen mask,
sitting motionless.

At the dawn of mankind,
ages ago in the darkness of night,
we lived in caves
and were forced to comprehend
visual information
out of the sound environment.

In this way,
we could discover
a dangerous animal.

This is a basic survival instinct.

Our Primary Cinema is therefore
to look at a very slow moving image
in the dark
while intently listening to sound.

This is the original immersive
surround sound experience
and therefore
Primary Cinema is sound,
that creates the understanding of images.

Sound is not a soundtrack,
which is added to images,
but it appears
that images arise from sounds.

The image is born from sound.

Although in Primary Cinema
we move backwards in time
in search for the single image
­­­– the origin of Hollywood's evolution ­­­–
we still experience cinema,
not painting
or staged photography.

Primary Cinema is comprehended
as a sequence of images with sound
which in the end
constructs its meaning.

It limits change   
and randomly distributes events
like dark energy
on a galactic scale,
but despite its apparent emptiness
it remains true cinema
as the marriage of
projected images and sound
in space and time.

The temporal dimension,
the inclusion of everything
that can be experienced
in space and time
provides for the cinematic effect,
as everything outside of space and time
remains unknowable.

Like in mathematical Calculus,
infinity is broken down
into a series of comprehensible steps.
Each step is a scene
and ultimately
all scenes will make the movie.

In the very end,
Primary Cinema happens
with great probability
inside us,
changing the very illusion of
perception, understanding,
and imagination.


Catalog No: FLX13 (LN39)
Title: Birth of Primary Cinema from the Spirit of Sound
Sound Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Visual Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Label: Flux Records
Length: 33:13 (1993s)
Composed: 2008-2010
Location: Los Angeles
New York
Instruments: Csound
Release Date: 05/04/2010
Edition Size: 200
Format: Compact Disc
Parts: Vinyl Style Sleeve (4/4)
DVD (4/4)
shrink wrap
4to booklet + 3.75 x 2 print
Tags: field recordings
O Brother Rothkamm, Where Art Thou? A mutely remarkable opus ... now dissonantly enigmatic, now coolly impertinent
Sound can facilitate a new engagement with the visual frame
theory and practice overlap: - cinema not far removed from Deleuze's "The Movement-Image" and "The Time-Image"
Aurelio Cianciotta NEURAL.IT
"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
No more than we can apprehend a noumenon by Kantian philosophy...
In the absurdist world within which Rothkamm works, this `supermodernist` art is nonetheless mesmerizing - just plain fascinating.
Crawford Philleo FOXY DIGITALIS
For his acoustic and optical praxis he erected in front of us a building of theory as high as a skyscraper
Top()List May 2010
Sounds exhausting? It's meditative!
It`s confusing though not confused, eclectic though not hectic - It’s darned well thought out.
François Couture MONSIEUR DELIRE
Mesmerizing ode dedicated to the music of a frozen world
Pierre Cecile LE SON DU GRISLI
Hardly a movie - Very hard to understand
Frans de Waard VITAL WEEKLY
209 ALBUMs
1100 TRACKs
112 PDFs

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