Opus I 


by Walther Ruttmann is the first abstract or "absolute" work in film history. Music by Max Butting. This young form of art aspires to a purity comparable to music, with the interaction of motifs and harmonies.

Note: The embedded version of Opus I (above) is from the recent restoration which restored some of the original color.


Instead of containing depictions of reality, it consists entirely of the colors and shapes already formulated in Walther Ruttmann's Painting With Light manifesto. In 1919, he writes that, after nearly a decade, he finally "masters the technical difficulties" struggled with as early as 1913 while executing his formulated idea. He also writes that one has to "work with film as though using a paintbrush and paint". Up to protecting his work by a patent in 1920, this artistically-motivated necessity born of new technical means leads to Ruttmann producing abstract and painterly image sequences in his films. 


Following the neglected Opus I come three other purely abstract films. These too, are painstakingly colored by hand. That each film has an original score composed especially for its production highlights another difference to the absolute films of Hans Richter or Oskar Fischinger, which transposed in images music that already existed.


Source: Media Art Net



Opus I, 1st generation, kugeln, 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)

Hans Richter - Activism, Modernism, and the Avant-Garde (2000) edited by Stephen C. Foster. Few artists spanned the movements of early twentieth-century art as completely as did Hans Richter. Richter was a major force in the developments of expressionism, Dada, De Stijl, constructivism, and Surrealism, and the creator, with Viking Eggeling, of the abstract cinema. Along with Theo van Doesburg, László Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky, and a few others, he is one of the artists crucial to an understanding of the role of the arts in the reconstruction era following World War I. (MIT Press)

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)



Amalgation (2009) is a synthesis of analog and digital sounds where traditional instruments meet digitally generated sounds created with Pure Data. This live audiovisual performance was the first of PMP's attempt in exploring the relationship between sound and visuals. (PMP)

Psyk (2001) by Ali M. Demirel - Music video for the Plastikman track Psyk. Plastikman is probably the best known of Canadian DJ Richie Hawtin's production aliases. A study in minimalist repetitions. (pingmag)

Stan Brakhage (1933-2003) was an American non-narrative filmmaker who is considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th century experimental film. Stan Brakhage's films are usually silent and lack a story, being more analogous to visual poetry than to prose story-telling. He often referred to them as "visual music" or "moving visual thinking." His films range in length from just a few seconds to several hours, but most last between two or three minutes and one hour. He frequently hand-painted the film or scratched the image directly into the film emulsion, and sometimes used collage techniques. (Experimental Cinema)

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)

Hy Hirsh (1911-1960) was born in Philadelphia. He lived in Los Angeles between 1916 and 1937, and began working with still photography in 1932, according to a curriculum vitae he prepared in 1961. He worked as a motion picture cameraman between 1930 and 1936, moved to San Francisco in 1937, then to Europe in 1955 where he spent the last years of his life in Amsterdam and Paris. (Cindy Keefer: "Hy Hirsh Preservation: History And Mystery" in "KINETICA 3: Abstraction, Animation, Music - Featuring Hy Hirsh and the Fifties - Jazz and Abstraction in Beat Ear Film", Los Angeles, 2001)