Ball was deeply religious and had a great belief in life however, he
had become a skeptic, having seen how the world had decended into the absurd
meaningless which he believed the war to be. It has been noted by his contempories
that Ball was in search of a meaning which he could juxtapose against the
tragedies which were going on around him. He had been a producer before
the war at the Munich Kammerspiele and his ideas had been greatly influenced
by Wassily Kandinsky, and through his influence Ball adopted the idea of
the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art).
"In 1914, when I was thinking over the plan for a new theatre, I was convinced of this: a theatre which experiments beyond the realm of day to day preoccupations. Europe paints, composes and writes verse in a new way. A fusion, not merely of all art, but of all regenerative ideas. The background of colours, words and sounds must be brought out from the subconcious and given life, so that it engulfs everyday life and all it's misery."
Ball's belief was that the world reflects art and being witness to world
events in 1915 his concern, as was that of Kandinsky was to bring about
the rebirth of society through the medium of all artistic trends and potentialities.
This was a common motivation of most of the dada collaborators at this
Ball's major contribution of work to the movement was the phonetic poem. Ball believed that poetry should follow the same route as art; where the human figure had progressively disappeared because it represented something which had become ugly and unworn. What Ball was suggesting was that poetry should disregard language and start a fresh unblemished. Richter writes of the first night when Ball performed these poems "In the overwhelming mass of unknown and startling experiences, this innovation had failed to register properly"
Ball's phonetic poetry must surely be considered one of the most important
contributions.However, with the emergence of the Romanian Tristan Tzara
Balls grip on the reigns of the movement began to lessen. Ball and Tzara
were opposites and the new directions in which the movement was progressing
( to more anarchistic anti-art quaters) convinced Ball it was time to depart.
Ball went to Berne, to work as a journalist on the Freie Zeitung of Dr Rosemeir. He then retired to Ticino to live a
religious existance in voluntary poverty.