Alexander Scriabin
Often credited as being the "first multimedia artist"--and later adopted by the sixties counterculture as "the first flower child," with his visage featured prominently on many posters in San Francisco head shops--Scriabin, a Theosophist like Wilfred, long struggled to realize his dream of interweaving music and light play. Influenced by Richard Wagner's concept of the total theater, Scriabin intended for his never-realized Mysterium to be a cosmic universal event en plein air, in which the sun, moon, and the stars would form a visual accompaniment to the music, the audience would be bathed in perfume, and the performers would number in the thousands. A more circumscribed attempt at integrating light and music came at the American premiere of Prometheus on March 20, 1915, at New York's Carnegie Hall. The performance called for piano, orchestra, voice, and a clavier a lumieres, called a Chromola, designed by lighting specialist Preston Miller and built by Arthur Moser. The Chromola consisted of a ring of twelve lamps, specially made for Miller by General Electric, on a round wooden plate and connected to a switcher. The Chromola had foot pedals connected to a rheostat that controlled the speed of a revolving canvas belt mounted on a stand. Fastened to the belt were the Chromola's lamps and color filters. The instrument had fifteen keys that triggered the lights singly or in groups and projected the resulting colors onto a small screen. The results received poor reviews, including one that derided the accompanying light play as "a pretty poppy show." Apparently, Scriabin (who died before the Carnegie Hall performance of Prometheus) had not wanted the light projections to be focused on a single screen, but to envelop the entire concert hall, immersing audience and performers alike in shifting hues.

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