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Poème électronique, composed in 1958 by Edgard Varèse, is the first, electronic-spatial environment to combine architecture, film, light and music to a total experience made to functions in time and space. Under the direction of Le Corbusier, Iannis Xenakis’ concept and geometry designed the World’s Fair exhibition space adhering to mathematical functions. This rapid fire delivery is something modern audiences are used to through media theese days, but in 1958 no one had ever seen anything like this. The visual presentation consisted of seven sections:
– Genesis – images of colored light, a bull, a matador, the head of a Greek statue, a film of a woman smiling, then recoiling in terror, a skull.
– Matter and Spirit – rapid-fire image projections of sea shells, scientists, the skull, an African woman, colored lights, a dinosaur skeleton, a film of a monkey apparently in thought.
– From Darkness to Dawn – eyes and heads of various animals and people. An owl’s head, a turkey head, a woman’s face, tribal sculptures of heads, open trench graves from concentration camps, toy soldiers, tanks, cowboys and Indians, guns, medieval sculptures of religions imagery, a Buddha.
– Manmade Gods – a variety of colored lights, stone head from Easter Island, geometric figures, the Sphinx.
– How Time Molds Civilization – industry and power – an atomic plant, crowds, a telescope operator, a surgeon, miner, cement workers, a farm horse, Charlie Chaplin, a bomber plane, a rocket, a radar antenna, clouds, mushroom clouds, children staring at the camera.
– Harmony – the Eiffel Tower, early photographs of people and animals, machine parts, Chaplin again, Laurel and Hardy, abstract shapes, astronomical images, two lovers in an embrace, babies.
– To All Mankind – skyscrapers, architectural plans, city models, the Modulor, a baby’s hand, children, an old woman, people at a dinner table, a man sleeping in the street, a dirt road, a baby again.
Before starting the project, Le Corbusier specified that no attempt would be made to synchronize the visuals with the music.


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