Diagonal Symphony 


- original title: Symphonie Diagonale. In Diagonal Symphony by Viking Eggeling, the emphasis is on objectively analyzed movement rather than expressiveness on the surface patterning of lines into clearly defined movements.

In this piece, Viking Eggeling (1880-1925) experiments with film as a new means of expression, adding a dimension that is inaccessible to the artist as painter: time. This revelation enables him to use movement as matter, which is why he constructs his Diagonal Symphony like a painting in motion. The rhythm provides a silent harmony of images.

Swedish painter and film-maker Viking Eggeling lived and worked in Paris, where he befriended artists Modigliani, Arp and Kiesling. In 1918, in Zurich, the writer Tristan Tzara introduced him to Hans Richter, the German Dada artist, film-maker and writer. It was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration. In 1920, the two artists began experimenting with film, assisted by the German UFA studio special effects technicians.

Eggeling moved to Berlin in 1921, where he continued his work on Horizontal-Vertical Orchestra (Vertikal-horizontal Symphonie). He kept company with a number of artists from the Bauhaus school, the Dada group November and the journal De Stijl. In 1923, he met Erna Niemeyer-Soupault and worked with her on Diagonal Symphony, a film that has left its mark on generations of film artists, including Oskar Fischinger, Walter Ruttmann and Norman McLaren.

In 1924, Eggeling held a private showing in Paris for Fernand Léger. The first public showing took place on 3 May 1925 in Berlin. Viking Eggeling died two weeks later on 19 May 1925.


Source: Europa Film Treasures



Diagonal Symphony, 1st generation, partitur, Film


Sons et Lumières (2004) – A History of Sound in the Art of the 20th Century (in French) by Marcella Lista and Sophie Duplaix published by the Centre Pompidou for the excellent Paris exhibition in September 2004 until January 2005.

Curated by the Pompidou’s Sophie Duplaix with the Louvre’s Marcella Lista, the show required a good three or four hours to absorb, with its bombardment of sensory and intellectual input, including painting, sound sculpture, sound/light automata, film and video, and room-size installations. (Frieze Magazine)

Optical Poetry (2004) by Dr. William Moritz is the long-awaited, definitive biography of Oskar Fischinger. The result of over 30 years of research on this visionary abstract filmmaker and painter. In addition to Moritz's comprehensive biography, it includes numerous photographs in colour and black and white (many never before published), statements by Oskar Fischinger about his films, a newly created extensive filmography, and a selected bibliography. (John Libbey Publishing)

Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900 (2005) traces the history of a revolutionary idea: that fine art should attain the abstract purity of music. Over the past one hundred years some of the most adventurous modern and contemporary artists have explored unorthodox means to invent a kinetic, non-representational art modeled upon pure instrumental music. (Amazon)



Art in Cinema – Documents Toward a History of the Film Society (2006) by Scott MacDonald provides extensive and fascinating documentation of one of the most important film societies in American history. Art in Cinema presents complete programs presented by the legendary society; dozens of previously unavailable letters between Stauffacher, his collaborators, and filmmakers including Maya Deren, Hans Richter, Vincent Minelli, and Man Ray; a reprint of the society's original catalog, which features essays by Henry Miller and others; and a wide range of other remarkable historical documents. (Temple University Press)

© Center for Visual Music


Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) was a German abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter. He made over 50 short animated films, and painted c. 800 canvases, many of which are in museums, galleries and collections worldwide. (Wikipedia)

Walther Ruttmann (1887-1941) was a German film director and along with Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling an early practitioner of experimental film. His film career began in the early 1920s. His first abstract short films, Opus I (1921) and Opus II (1923), were experiments with new forms of film expression, and the influence of these early abstract films is especially obvious in the early work of Oskar Fischinger in the 1930s. Walther Ruttmann and his colleagues of the avant garde movement enriched the language of film as a medium with new form techniques. (Wikipedia)

Mario Basanov & Vidis feat. Jazzu: I’ll be gone (2008) music promo by Lithuanian director Rimantas Lukavicius (KORB). Taking the simple premise of using a cardiograph (Four of them to be precise) to represent different audio lines within the track, Rimantas manages to create something truly mesmerising. It's one of those, I don't quite know why I like this so much, but I do pieces of work. (Motionographer)

Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (1994) by French critic and composer Michel Chion reassesses audiovisual media since the revolutionary 1927 debut of recorded sound in cinema, shedding crucial light on the mutual relationship between sound and image in audiovisual perception. (Colombia University Press)