Born in Vienna in 1965, Eva Flatscher studied free
and applied painting at the School of Arts. Since 1992,
she has worked as a freelance visual artist. In 2002 she
brought the concept of Light Painting to the public realm,
and since then she has practiced her art in concert halls,
at international festivals, and in public venues both in Eu-
rope and in the United States. With Light Painting, the
Austrian performer unites the art forms of music, painting,
and dance in a unique and electrifying manner. As dan-
cers move on the stage and music sounds, she directs
them both, the musicians and the dancers, through her
painting. In this way, she seeks not to produce a backdrop
to the stage but to bring her painting together on the same
level with the other art forms.
Rather than painting in a conventional manner, Ms.
Flatscher trades in her brush and canvas for an A1 graphic
tablet and plotter pen in order to transform her art into
something dynamic. Her simple setup also includes a lap -
top, the software program Adobe Photoshop®, and one
or more multimedia projectors. Her medium during the
performance is light. With these implements she paints
before the audience’s eyes, without following a pre-deter- mined design. The painting is projected right on the stage
as it takes shape during the performance.
The Concept behind Light Painting
Eva Flatscher conceives of her work, which develops
live on stage through improvisation, as a narrative activi -
ty, in which the lines that she paints carry the story for-
ward. The narrative is reflected in the music and also in the
dance. For the musicians, what carries the energy is not
line, but tone. For the dancers, it is movement.
In this way, all of the art forms that Eva Flatscher
places side by side in her performances have a narrative
function. By ‘listening’ to one another through movement,
tone, and line, the performers seek to create a dramatic
arc that tells the audience a tale.
Through the dancers, Flatscher’s work becomes
three dimensional. They serve as solid, figurative elements
in the abstract work of art. During the performance, the
layers of painting, music, and dance interpenetrate. Each
art form reacts to the others and influences them as well.
Eva Flatscher establishes anchor points for the ‘plot-line’
of the story that is to be told. The gaps between these
points are then filled through free improvisation. Their mu-
tual interaction forces the artists to move out of their cus -
tomary environments and to engage with what is foreign.
This appears to be an interesting challenge, particularly
for the musicians. While under ‘normal conditions’ musi -
cians improvise by listening to one another play, in Light
Painting they must react to movement and color.
When the performance is over, Eva Flatscher captures
the work of art that has been created. Although the dance
comes to a standstill and the music fades, she converts
the resulting images into a series of paintings.
Music and Dance
Two commissioned works proved to be transforma-
tive experiences with music for Eva Flatscher (cycles of
paintings to accompany Pictures at an Exhibition by M.P.
Mussorgskij und the jazz oratorio, Eversmiling Liberty, by
Jens Johansen und Erling Kulberg, freely adapted from
Georg Friedrich Händel). Through these projects, she
gained public notice as a visual artist. These days, she
does not restrict herself when selecting music for her
performances. Of interest to her is any substantial pie-
ce of music – from the twelfth to the twentyfirst century,
from diverse cultures, and of various musical styles – with
which images might be associated. Movement was also
drawn into the concept of Light Painting from the very
beginning. At first, however, the type of movement was
that of Physical Theater (storytelling through movement).
Only later did Eva Flatscher work with dancers. Here also
she started small, progressing from a single moving figure
in her paintings to her present work with groups of dan-
cers. The collaborative work proceeds under the motto:
See with the ears and hear with the eyes.
During the performance, the different art forms must
communicate with one another and take turns following
one another. A different art form thus takes the lead in
each segment of the performance. For this reason, the
rehearsals are immensely important. The artists seek to
construct a dramaturgic arc whose substance the perfor-
mance can then follow. Most of all, the rehearsals enab -
le the artists to learn to understand one another. Mutual
understanding is crucial to the success of improvisation
during the performance. Thus, the collaborative work is
facilitated by several rehearsals.
The goal of the performers is to show that artists and
‘listeners’ are part of a greater whole. Through her pain-
ting, Eva Flatshcer seeks to transform tonal colors into vi -
sual colors. In this way, the ‘listeners’ – but also the musi -
cians and dancers – can see the music. She understands
her work during the presentation itself as a process too.
Taking great delight in experimentation, she continually in-
corporates new dimensions into her work. The paintings
that emerge in connection with music are digitally recor-
ded on film and later reused in installations. In this way, the
performance serves as a kind of studio for Eva Flatscher.
Rather than working alone in seclusion, she stands (when
the setting allows) right in the middle of the public, so dra-
wing them into her work. The individual art forms overlap
with one another, and yet each is able to retain its own in-
tegrity. So dancers frolic with splashes of color, Flatscher
moves along to the music, and the musicians respond to
the resulting play of colors.
Eva Flatscher’s living three-dimensional paintings fill
the room and afford the audience an amazing, over-the-
top spectacle, an immersion in art itself. Reactions to this
artwork come to expression in the comments of artists
and spectators: Eva, how do you know the colors I was
seeing while I was composing? The plotter pen dances.
Or, Eva, I can feel the colors.
Author: Hester Schodterer, University of Vienna,
Austria, Institut of Musicology. The reproduced text is an
excerpt of a scientific paper written by Ms. Schodterer.