The Metamorphosis of Fear

Philmont, New York. The art of transforming fear.

In 1918, at the end of the First World War, Rudolf Steiner gave the musician, composer and landscape architect Jan Stuten a task: he was to create a new color art from a combination of sound, chromatic movement and colorful light and shadow. The interpretation of the result was to lie in the eyes of the beholder. Steiner entitled the theme of Stuten’s first work, “Metamorphoses of Fear,” thus creating a link to the collective and individual experiences of people during the First World War. His intention was for the artwork to contribute to the transformation of the omnipresent feeling of fear in post-war society. In response to Steiner’s assignment, Stuten created fifteen chalk sketches on wrapping paper as a kind of script for a colorful play of light with the same name. His basic idea was that light, shadow, and color moved and changed in relation to music.

Fear as a reaction to the current world situation is still relevant today – and so its artistic metamorphosis is once again being taken up as a theme by a group of artists. They are gathering at the art and education initiative Free Columbia in the state of New York to breathe new life into Steiner and Stuten’s project. The multimedia collaboration will combine painting, colored light, video installation, movement, sound, and music. Participating in the collaboration are Frank Agrama, Soren Dietzel, Kai Noar, Sampsa Pirtola, Matt Sawaya, Laura Summer, and Jen Zimberg. As a first step, Summer painted three stages of the “Metamorphosis of Fear,” loosely based on Stuten’s sketches. Next, the images will be translated into movement and sound. An exhibition and series of performances are planned for the end of the year or the beginning of next year.

More The Metamorphosis of Fear

Translation Charles Cross
Images “Metamorphosis of Fear” by Laura Summer, 2023 (detail, image 1 from the series of 15 images)

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