Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Only the creative (spirit) as the responsibility of each individual can fight our new illiteracy: the tragic impotence of the contemporary eye. This impotence as well as the creative way of examination has become measurable by way of the “individual cinema.”

The modern most recent “avant-garde” work oughtmost appropriately be referred to as “transautomatic” for it no longer describes one single “image” — although it resembles already existing works in its outer appearance — but several — a quasi very complex, wonderful, and still fragile film which certainly no longer corresponds to the conventional way of examination but, rather to a different,a new approach. 

Based on the inability and impossibility of titling a transautomatic image or a transautomatic artwork (a tao = transautomatic object) evolving from an extremely difficult work process comprising complex, often contradictory, considerations of continuous developments (which for the most part proceed subconsciously)—, double titles emerge automatically; then several titles for the same work (of the tao), and eventually the realization that a flexible way of examination is necessary and will lead to the individually created film.

The immovable transautomatic image object (tao) must trigger a moving image, i.e., a sequence of images inside the viewer or, the tao will remain invisible. This individual cinema has always existed in the subconscious mind and moved into the responsibility of the awareness and conscience resulting from the deepening intervention of the new responsibilities and rights of modern art.

I have tried to “project” such an individual film, i.e., to write it down. It concerned a very delicate experiment in which a static tao set into motion a continuous and active sequence of inner images inside the “active observer,” transforming in the process into pictorial energies, and eventually into energies and other things while they unreel internally. This is the individual internal creative film.

It must not be confused with a chain of associations (à la Rorschach test, etc.) even if at the beginning of the film associations play an essential role. Compared with the entire film the proportion of associations is extremely small and mostly overestimated, because they can be written down or “represented;” however, is based on them can no longer or not yet be represented. For associations are passive or at best semi-passive comparisons. The recipient (observer, listener, etc.) compares one image that he is facing with other, already existing images which he has already seen, felt, experienced or, images which already exist in him or have been built up inside him by an innate power. In any case, it is a confrontation with the déjà vu.

This confrontation with things already seen is, however, insufficientregarding the new attitude that is required for the confrontation with a tao. Terms, such as observer, viewer, exploration, interpretation, “permitting the image to impact on you,” “feeling impartial empathy with the painter,” “empathizing with the act of painting” are not only insufficient and misleading, but also destructive and dangerous regarding the confrontation already referred to. These well-known catchwords of generally accepted “art appreciation” would perhaps just serve the same purpose as a wooden knife trying to cut a fortified concrete wall although it usually efficiently cuts butter and flattens adobe walls; and they would not really be damaging if not our entire educational system would hide behind it, which therefore carries the responsibility for our new real and terrible illiteracy (compared to which the illiterate illiteracy is a bagatelle), because it not only highly endangers us all, but pushes us already and right now into an abyss of the most monstrous degree.

Unfortunately these “listeners to painting” — and tragically enough not only to painting — are still being educated in our schools both in art instruction and art history as well as in all other subjects. This education certainly no longer suffices the increased demands of the “examination” (better: the attitude toward) for instance transautomatic works. Capable is only the active, ethical, responsible, the creative observer, who distinguishes himself principally from the hitherto ordinary observer and for whom no new name has been forged yet, simply because he has not been acknowledged as necessary. However, for Klee, Dali, Mondrian, whom one is occasionally able to advance toward, the inherited passive examination still seems to suffice. But for how long? A great cataclysm, and not just in art education, is on its way. 
An individually creative film can develop only in one “creative viewer” in a short span of time — as infinitely as it might be — perhaps in just one moment (admittedly by facing a transautomatic object) and holds real validity only for him or her and for the same  moment. Furthermore, at other times, in new confrontations with exactly the same tao the same person must be able to develop a new moveable, progressing vision, an infinite and continuous sequence of images, an “inner cinema.” Of course, every other person, who is always faced by the same tao, must be capable to unreel innumerable, I am tempted to say, infinitely many “endless creative films” in him-/herself. 

In any case, one example of a transautomatic reflection of an image would be misleading and damaging; especially for people, who are used to compare images and titles, because they are being deprived of the possibility of creating their own individually generated sequences not only in regard to the same tao, but also to all other faced objects which follow later. This can provoke irreparable damage for the soul. Moreover, no complete example of an infinite creative film can ever be given, but only excerpts of the initial associations, i.e., a small part of the beginning, which can be written down. Furthermore, inner damage develops to a much higher degree through the method which has already been seen.

Hence, if the entire assumption for one’s absolutely own creative film(according to the absolutely own method) of the person in question is not existent, the result is much worse than invalid. One single transautomatic object (tao) must raised three times to the power of infinity in order to become absolutely visible: For one single tao comprises infinitely many titles— actually infinitely many and continuous diapositives which form the creative film — within infinitely many possible creative films according to infinitely many methods and laws of the visual appropriation of one and the same tao.

It is therefore obvious that the new (transautomatic) creative image reflection is as different from the hitherto conventional and taught image reflection as day and night. While until now the work of art culminated in a purpose, in a goal, in a title, in a task and the viewer functioned quasi as an impartial referee, who stood outside, the work of art now serves infinitely many billions of purposes and has infinitely many billions of titles, tasks and goals. The “viewer” can no longer remain an impartial referee standing outside, because the title of the work is no longer existent, and especially because the viewer himself has become creative. For only through the “viewer’s” creative ability of seeing can internal creative films evolve which are only valid and make the work relatively visible for this particular “viewer.” Therefore the rage of a lower person (for instance a Communist or a Hitlerist) when he/she is faced with a work of art which is indeed invisible for him/her, can be easily explained.

The inner-inner eye’s movement while it is facing the tao equals a genuinely transautomatic machine. One could best compare it to the start, the ascent and the trajectory of a rocket. There is a start activated by explosive agents that remain on the ground, an ascent of the rocket piece in stages, during which one of the complex of elements that forces it up becomes useless and falls off after every stage until (after having overcome the heavyweight density) the rocket eventually continues to move on by itself without the support mechanisms. During the procedure of the transautomatic image reflection the groups of associations have roughly the same function as the complexes of the closing and ascending elements. They pierce through the various spheres of the associative space, which at first is densely overloaded with associations, becoming increasingly looser with lesser associations, similar to the conditions of the air and the heavyweight densities surrounding the globe. The start occurs through the confrontation of subject and object (creative viewer — tao) and the dissolution of the correspondences which echelon and support each other in miraculous ways.
In the first stage of the simplest associations the faced tao is being compared purely visually with objects that have already perceived optically. 

Schematic diagram for the start of an individual creative film:

1.    Actual optical-formal comparison of three components: Present are the effigy, the model and the one who compares. (There is not even an association. Today photography has increasingly displaced the painted picture. This lowest stage is no longer possible in the confrontation with a tao, because the tao no longer contains representational components as was the case for instance for Cubist, Dadaist and abstract pictorial objects.)

2.    Optical-formal comparisons of the tao with objects of conventional figurative visual experience — confrontation with the déjà vu« — (this being the first and most simple association: for instance one seems to recognize a house in a cloud.) Here photography serves the purpose better and more effectively than a tao. This is the deepest level of observation accessible to every human being and quasi represents the beginning of the unreeling of the inner film. This lowest confrontation determines the first “diapositive images” of the film which, however, turns into a creative film much later. Tragically enough this primitive visual confrontation is already considered comprehensive art appreciation by the broad masses and yet it is only the initial stage of infinitely many stages in a succession.

3.    Optical-formal comparisons of the tao with objects of the conventional non-figurative visual experience (whether it be non-figurative object which have actually been seen or already been reproduced). It is interesting to point out that Soviet Realism has found pleasure in the three mutual optical-formal comparisons already mentioned and can hence appropriately be categorized as formalism. In contrast, the associations, which will be presented in the following, can hardly be categorized as “formalism,” because, all formal elements have ceased to apply. 

4.    Optical-formal comparisons of the confronted tao with not yet optically seen, but probably visually existing or possible figurative objects (for instance, how one imagines a girl, once seen in the nude, dressed or the house of one’s aunt in Berlin that one has never been faced with “optically in reality,” because one has never been there).

5.    Optical-formal comparisons of the confronted tao with not yet optically seen, but presumably optically existing or possible non-figurative objects (as one imagines that which are too large or to small for our unarmed optical eyes, and which for this matter are incomprehensibly categorized non-figurative as, for example, presumably an ant would experience a fir needle as figurative, a fir tree, however, as non-figurative. Potential images from the micro- and macrocosm, potential images of views out of the window of an airplane or how one imagines figures in abstract art).

6.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with extra-optical images of the conventional figurative olfactory, auditory, haptic etc. experiences of the “viewer” (the differentiation of figurative and non-figurative extra-optical images of the other senses can be made and is most obvious with auditory images).

7.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with extra-optical images of conventional non-figurative experiences of the other senses.

8.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with extra-optical figurative sense-images that have not been heard or felt etc. yet, but which most likely exist or are possible.

9.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with non-figurative sense-images that have not been heard and felt yet etc. yet, but most likely exist or are possible.

10.    Optical-formal comparisons of the confronted tao with optical figurative objects which exist only inside the “viewer” him- or herself but, only those which are inherent, i.e., intrinsic since his or her birth, also optical comparisons with inner optical images of the permanent and figurative subconscious (the figurative Surrealists, especially Rousseau, drew from this reservoir).

11.    The same non-figuratively: optical-formal comparisons of the confronted tao with permanent inner images of the non-figurative optical subconscious (these images, too, can be materialized as for example in certain works by Klee, Miró, Kandinsky).

12.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with permanent inner images of the figurative extra-optical subconscious of the audio, the olfactory sense etc. (Each carries his or her own melody and his or her own scent).

13.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with permanent inner images of the non-figurative extra-optical subconscious of the non-optical senses.

14.    Comparisons of the tao with the most diverse combinations of optical and extra-optical, figurative and non-figurative permanent inner images of the subconscious.

15.    Optical-formal comparisons of the confronted tao with transient optical inner images of the figurative supra-conscious (i.e., with images which the “viewer” has built up in him- or herself with his or her own creativity.) 
Previously, the main activity of art was to copy these images that had been built up in one’s inner self. After all, this no longer was a copy after nature, nor was it a copy from the sub-conscious which cannot be made responsible that it was being copied but, was already a copy of one’s own creation, yet unfortunately still remained a copy. 

16.    Optical-formal comparisons of the confronted tao with transient optical, inner and non-figurative images of the supra-conscious which the observer has built up in him- or herself.

17.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with transient inner, extra-optical and figurative images of the supra-conscious (objects of the auditory, olfactory sense and the sense of taste which have been built up in one’s self etc.).

18.    Semi-optical comparisons of the confronted tao with transient, inner, extra-optical and non-figurative images of the supra-conscious.

19.    Comparisons of the confronted tao with the most diverse combinations of optical and extra-optical, figurative and non-figurative transient inner images of the supra-conscious.

20.    The comparisons with images of the supra- and subconscious are furthermore divided in three groups as follows:
I.    Direct comparisons (present)
II.    Experiential comparisons (past)
III.    Potential comparisons (future)
(This would triple the points that have already been mentioned and would probably go too far, although it would be extremely important to rank them as well, because they clarify many of the questions of origin of the still contemporary art of the first half of this century [20th century] and hence make visible the already mentioned art objects to a large extent — not, however, the tao.)

After these unfortunately only partly mentioned optical and extra-optical comparisons of the tao with “the seven senses,” the sense associations, are followed by the confrontation with values, the value comparisons. This means, the tao is once again compared with the before mentioned 20 image components which in fact are more than 39 (78 including movement associations), not in an “optical” sense but in terms of their value. Since there are innumerable values, infinitely numerous value associations are resulting. These are:

Religious values: has the confronted tao the same or similar religious value as this or that or this optical or extra-optical figurative or non-figurative entity, optically seen outside myself or optically contained within my subconscious or built up within my supra-conscious, however, momentarily present or already seen or experienced or visually or sensuously potential object… etc. … as cf. nos. 1–20 (one must not forget that there are very different religious values evolving from the various religions which all have a right to a value comparison with the same tao);

Financial values: can the tao which I am confronting be sold as well, worse or better or can it be exchanged against other valuable objects like this or that ... as nos. 1–20;

Healing values in a physical sense: can the tao which confronts me heal me as well from this or that suffering … as nos. 1–20;
Healing values in a spiritual (psychic) sense;
Political values (in a monarchist, Nazi, Communist, Socialist etc. sense);
Artistic-aesthetical values: in thousands of respects or, for example, has the tao that is confronting me the same or similarly expressive, surreal, Gothic, primitive, automatic etc. etc. (all kinds of isms) values … as nos. 1?20;
General, extra-artistic beauty characteristics;
Educational values in almost innumerably different regards depending on, for example, whether the tao that is confronting me has the same educational values as a map, as a poem, as a Stalin image? 
Values of sexual attraction and rejection;
Structural values;
Symbolic values;
Ethical values;
Values as musical or literary force and source creation;
Material values: for example, can one use the canvas onto which the tao confronting me is painted, for this or that reason … as nos. 1–20;
Rare values;
Difficult values;
Heavy values: is the tao that I have to carry to the gallery right now not just as heavy etc., etc. as nos. 1–20, as for example a 70-kilo-heavy lady carried in a dream, etc., etc.

After these value associations, which could be continued endlessly, come the utility value comparisons which are being applied to all value comparisons and which are being intertwined with all sense associations. An example of a utility association: Is the tao which is confronting me as useful in material, religious, educational or healing regards as this or that … as nos. 1–20. Moreover, educational associations can be formed in the same way in religious, political, financial etc. regards confronting a tao.

Then the efficiency comparisons which take a large part and can be interwoven with a large part of the existing associations in every respect: Is the tao confronting me not equally efficient in artistic, symbolic, political regards as ...

Furthermore, questions of the right to exist, for example: Has the tao confronting me not the same right to exist in religious, artistic, etc. etc. regard or at all as  ... for example no. 1 ... transient, inner, extra-optical and non-figurative images of my super-conscious (a sound image created in me by ways of my own force which I have in my mind right now or which I had on my mind 20 years ago and has vanished, that I, however, still remember or, that I can, could or will possibly create).

There are then surely still a number of comparisons and groups of associations, but right now I don’t remember any.

In any case movement and process associations must also be added. These are comparisons of the confronting tao with the 39 (20) groups of images of the sense associations transposed into movement.

All these are initially associations which activate the start of the inner creative film but, are themselves alien to its essence. A large part of the images handled can no longer be transposed into words and can often hardly be schematized. And yet it does exist. At least for now, after this long difficult start the actual and creative movement of the inner-inner eye is proceeding. According to zones without top and bottom one is exposed once again to the mists of associations which can be described with words only with difficulty or hardly at all. By way of the creative film which now unreels seemingly effortlessly and weightlessly the viewer becomes identical with the creator.

Following the course of the inner continuous sequence of creation, one falls back to the lowest, the optical associations but, there occur even stretches of associative imperatives which activate happiness and movement, the desire to storm ahead with utmost speed, to fill the void, to break the whole, to ruin that which has been built up, to create something from nothing, to scream, to act, yes, even to speak — followed by the opposing imperatives: those of fatality, of experiencing cramps, nausea, crying, bleeding to death, etc. And the same tao still confronted activates associations in the creative viewer and transform the seen already into energy. The hitherto existing viewer has liberated him- or herself from the shackles of associations, has become a creative viewer and co-equal with the tao.

Where in regards to the tao the image, movement and existence associationstransform into image-, movement- and existential energies, one has reached the limit, and there the birth of transautomatic image observation, of transautomatic creative film begins.

The film moves through almost impenetrable zones and then hits others with extraordinary insights, they may be discoveries and inventions which can be utilized materially or patented,  they may be religious appearances, visions and miracles which for the time being cannot be explained or interpreted.

It would be useless and impossible to describe the further course of the film.

Beyond these zones unlimited and infinite perspectives open up for the individual transautomatic creative film. But in view of the expansiveness of space it actually soon ends at the provisional and preliminary limit of our abilities.

In continuous development the individual film moves along its track from the illusory world to the typical and quasi infinite space of true human possibilities.



Written in 1954 and published as “Arte come Transautomatico”, in: Arti Visivi, No. 2, Rome 1955, supplemented and edited in 1956, 1957, 1968; 

Published in:

La visibilité de la création transautomatique, in : Cimaise 3/6, Paris, May, 1956, pp. 11-13. 
Cinema individuel, in: Phases, Paris, 1956 (Excerpt). Excerpts published in Cimaise, Paris, 1957.
in Japanese published in: Mizue. A Monthly Review of the Fine Arts. Tokyo, 157. 
Pourquoi le transautomatism est nécessaire, in: Hundertwasser. Ed. by Pierre Restany, Galerie Kamer, Paris, 1957. 

The German version was first published as "Der Transautomatismus: eine allgemeine Mobilmachung des Auges", in: protokolle, Vienna, 1968. 

Catalogue Haus der Kunst, Munich, 1975. Glarus: Gruener Janura AG, 1975, pp. 127-130 (excerpt) 
Catalogues of the World Travelling Museum Exhibitions: German editions: Warsaw, 1976; Pfäffikon (Switzerland), 1979; Cologne, 1980; Vienna, Graz, 1981 (excerpts). French editions: Paris, Luxembourg, Marseille, Cairo, 1975; Copenhagen, Dakar, 1976; Montreal, Brussels, 1978 (excerpts). 

Walter Schurian (ed.), Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Schöne Wege, Gedanken über Kunst und Leben [Beautiful Paths, Thoughts about Art and Life], Munich: dtv, 1983, pp. 44-56 and edition Munich: Langen Müller Verlag, 2004, pp. 36-46 

Grunenberg, Christoph and Becker, Astrid (ed.): Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Gegen den Strich. Werke 1949-1970, Exhibition catalogue Kunsthalle Bremen. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012, p. 71 (German)