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House of Shadow Silence (2017)

Project Brief

An experimental audio/visual experience inside an iconic cinema.


In House of Shadow Silence, viewers don a virtual reality headset and float through a re-creation of the modernist Film Guild Cinema. They travel in an endless loop–through the cinema, into the retractable eye, the filmic grain of the movies displayed on screen, and then back into the cinema. Looking around, they see neoplastic forms animating from the building's walls and ceiling.

These geometric forms were inspired by the films of Hans Richter, whose work was screened on opening weekend. Simulations of film projectors cover the walls, ceiling and geometric forms, creating a collision of old and new–of 1920s-era abstract filmmaking, constructivist art, and contemporary computer graphics.

The Film Guild was designed by Frederick Kiesler, a multidisciplinary artist and member of the De Stijl group, for the International Film Arts Guild, an organization that promoted foreign, artistic and experimental films from Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

Inspired by the multimedia explorations of the European avant-garde, Kiesler intended to create an immersive viewing experience–with projections on the walls and the ceiling– where "the spectator must be able to lose himself in an imaginary endless space." His design featured a number of groundbreaking technological features–including a "project-o-scope" ("a gallery of light-stations encircling the auditorium sending rays in all directions") and a "screen-o-scope" ("a device for the main screen with threes auxiliary screens spanning the auditorium"). When the cinema opened to the public in New York City in 1929, these multimedia elements were left out due to budgetary constraints. This work transports viewers into a virtual re-creation of the Film Guild as Kiesler imagined it.

House of Shadow Silence is funded in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

The soundtrack for House of Shadow Silence was created by musician Chris Carlson.

Read the essay "Our Gaze is the Projector Now" written by Greg J. Smith (HOLO Magazine,

Exhibition History

ZKM (Centre for Art and Media). Karlsruhe, Germany. February 2018.
Academy Theater. Portland, OR. August 2017.
Kaleidescope VR showcase. Portland, OR. December 2016.

Project Specs

Format: Realtime software with virtual reality headset
Duration: Continuous
Year of Production: 2017


Film Guild Cinema, Frederick Kiesler, film, experimental film, experimental, visual music, modern, De Stijl, virtual reality, 1920s, re-creation, animation, projection, openFrameworks, OpenGL