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Visual music in film, 1921-1924: Richter, Eggeling, Ruttman

Visual music in film, 1921-1924: Richter, Eggeling, Ruttman
Visual music in film, 1921-1924: Richter, Eggeling, Ruttman
This chapter examines the earliest fully realised abstract animated films, produced in Germany in the 1920s by Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling and Walther Ruttman. The time-based medium of film offered these artists an opportunity to expand the musical concerns of Modernism, their use of musical vocabulary in film titles (Symphonie Diagonal, Rhythmus 21, Opus 1) revealing its influence. Music was central to all the artists discussed here; Richter’s interest in counterpoint was provoked by discussions with composer Ferruccio Busoni; Busoni also proved an influence on Eggeling who was a pianist and whose father owned a music shop; Ruttmann was a cellist and violinist.

Beneath this apparently simple unity of intention, however, lay a number of complex and at times oppositional issues. The influence of music was understood in two very different ways; for Richter and Eggeling the non-representational quality of music could be seen as an inspiration to explore the unique qualities of the artists’ own medium, music served as an analogy for the interrogation of the non-representational qualities of painting or film. Conversely, for Ruttman music was tightly integrated into film in an attempt to synthesise the visual and the aural, to create a synaesthetic mingling of the senses which denied the differences in art forms that the music as analogy approach erects.

This chapter argues that these differences reflected not only aesthetic choice but broader cultural concerns, Richter’s and Eggeling’s work embodying the ‘separation of the senses’ (Crary) that resulted from 19th century scientific investigation of vision. In contrast Ruttman’s films can be seen to reflect not only 19th century aesthetic concerns with synaesthesia and the Gesamtkunstwerk, but also the emergence of Gestalt psychology
1-4438-2696-0
206-228
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Cook, Malcolm
e2e0ebaa-c791-48dc-8c67-86e6cbb40b75
de Mille, Charlotte
Cook, Malcolm
e2e0ebaa-c791-48dc-8c67-86e6cbb40b75
de Mille, Charlotte

Cook, Malcolm (2011) Visual music in film, 1921-1924: Richter, Eggeling, Ruttman. In, de Mille, Charlotte (ed.) Music and Modernism, c. 1849-1950. Newcastle upon Tyne, GB. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 206-228.

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

This chapter examines the earliest fully realised abstract animated films, produced in Germany in the 1920s by Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling and Walther Ruttman. The time-based medium of film offered these artists an opportunity to expand the musical concerns of Modernism, their use of musical vocabulary in film titles (Symphonie Diagonal, Rhythmus 21, Opus 1) revealing its influence. Music was central to all the artists discussed here; Richter’s interest in counterpoint was provoked by discussions with composer Ferruccio Busoni; Busoni also proved an influence on Eggeling who was a pianist and whose father owned a music shop; Ruttmann was a cellist and violinist.

Beneath this apparently simple unity of intention, however, lay a number of complex and at times oppositional issues. The influence of music was understood in two very different ways; for Richter and Eggeling the non-representational quality of music could be seen as an inspiration to explore the unique qualities of the artists’ own medium, music served as an analogy for the interrogation of the non-representational qualities of painting or film. Conversely, for Ruttman music was tightly integrated into film in an attempt to synthesise the visual and the aural, to create a synaesthetic mingling of the senses which denied the differences in art forms that the music as analogy approach erects.

This chapter argues that these differences reflected not only aesthetic choice but broader cultural concerns, Richter’s and Eggeling’s work embodying the ‘separation of the senses’ (Crary) that resulted from 19th century scientific investigation of vision. In contrast Ruttman’s films can be seen to reflect not only 19th century aesthetic concerns with synaesthesia and the Gesamtkunstwerk, but also the emergence of Gestalt psychology

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Published date: 2011
Organisations: Film

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 382346
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/382346
ISBN: 1-4438-2696-0
PURE UUID: 009daa0a-261f-4bba-b0ba-bcd14318b103

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Date deposited: 29 Oct 2015 11:01
Last modified: 13 Jul 2020 16:35

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Contributors

Author: Malcolm Cook
Editor: Charlotte de Mille

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