Walter Ruttmann (1887-1941)

Filmography (partial)

Lichtspiel Opus I (1921); 3 and 13 minute versions

Lichtspiel Opus 2 (1921); 2 minutes

Der Sieger (1922)

Das Wunder (1922)

Zwei Kurzfilme nach ‘Poemes

Cinematographiques’ von Phillipe Soupault (1922)

Falkentraum (Hawks Dream sequence or Fritz

Lang’s Die Nibelungen) (1924)

The Adventures of prince Achmed (sequences

for Lotte Reininger’s film), (1924-26)

Lebende Buddhas: Eine Phantasie aus dem Schneeland und Tibet (for the film directed by

Paul Wegener),(1924)

Ruttmann Opus 3 (1924), 5 minutes

Ruttmann Opus 4 (1925), 3 minutes

Das Wiedergefundene Paradies (1925)

Der Aufstieg (1926)

Spiel der Wellen (1926)

Wolkenhintergrundsfilm (1927)

Berlin. Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (1927), 53 min.

Melodie der Welt (1929-30)

(for full filmography see Jeanpaul Goergen’s Walter Ruttmann. Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek, 1990)

This film [Opus I] is the beginning of a new, autonomous kind of art . . . This young form of art aspires to a purity comparable to music, with the interaction of motifs and harmonies . . . This optical symphony, heretofore only a speculation of aesthetes, here becomes an event.

–WR, Berlin, April 2, 1921

My early abstract films were rooted in my earlier non-filmic work–painting and music. The abstract studies [Opus I-V] were their synthesis. I began the sketches for them almost immediately after the end of the war. I made them in Berlin with the Swedish painter Viking Eggeling. The artistic rewards of working in this area were not very large. I am not going to resume these experiments, but think of them as the alpha and omega of my work as an artist . . . Essentially, you can trace the basis of all film to the play of light on the screen, to adequate and picturesque compositions of the film fragment (or frame). Additionally, there is rhythm; the successive change of black and white forms.

Somebody has called the abstract film "the music of light." This music of light was and will always be an essential part of cinema.

My debut with acted films was with the staging of Kriemhild’s dream in The Nibelungen–which Fritz Lang offered me. Did I then look for new rules and laws of film composition? No. I composed Kriemhild’s dream in the same way as I composed my abstract studies.

–WR, from a discussion in 1933 about his Berlin, Symphony of a Great City

Translation by Jörg Fockele with R. Haller

Paul Sharits (l943-93)

Wintercourse (l962), l2 minutes

Ray Gun Virus (l966), l4 minutes

Word Movie/Fluxfilm (l966), 3.5 minutes

Piece Mandala/End War (l966), 5 minutes

Razor Blades (l965-68), two screens, 25 minutes

N.OT.H.I.N.G. (1968), 36 minutes

T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G. (l968), l2 minutes


(l968-7l), 42 minutes

Inferential Current (l97l), 8 minutes

Axiomatic Granularity (l972-73), 20 minutes

Analytical Studies I: The Film Frame (l972-76),

25 minutes

Analytical Studies II: Unframed Lines (l97l-76),

25 minutes

Analytic Studies III:Color Frame Passages (l973-

74), 22 minutes

Analytical Studies IV: Blank Color Frames

(l975-76), 20 minutes

Color Sound Frames (l974), 26.5 minutes

Apparent Motion (l975), 30 minutes

Episodic Generation (l976), 30 minutes

Epileptic Seizure Comparison (l976), 30 minutes

Tails (l976), 3 minutes

Declarative Mode (l976-77), two screens or a

single screen, 40 minutes

3rd Degree (l982), 23 minutes

Bad Burns (l982), 6 minutes

Brancusi’s Sculpture Ensemble at Tirgu Jiu

(l977-84), two screens, 2l minutes

While I was studying painting in the early l960s ... I was also making films ... I stopped painting in the middle l960s but became more and more engaged with film, attempting to isolate and essentialize aspects of its representationalism. I had also become most intrigued with the differences between reading and listening, or, more inclusively, the larger discontinuities between seeing and hearing; film, sound film, appeared to be the most natural medium for testing what thresholds of relatedness might exist between these perceptual modes. In making films, I have always been more interested in speech patterns, music and temporal pulses in nature than in the visual arts for exemplary models of composition (perhaps because I had studied music as a child, and had internalized musical forms of structuring)....

My early "flicker films"–wherein clusters of differentiated single frames of solid color can appear to almost blend or, each frame insisting upon its discreteness, can appear to aggressively vibrate–are filled with attempts to allow vision to function in ways usually particular to hearing."

"Hearing : Seeing," Film Culture 65-66, l978

"In his flicker films, Sharits replaces the consecutive phases of action with solidly colored or black or white frames. The effect is literally dazzling. The viewer sees often violent bursts of light whose color and intensity are functions of the speed at which the colored frames and the complimentary colors of spontaneously induced afterimages change. The oscillating colors not only foreground the pulsing light beam, they also reflexively remind the viewer of the physicality of the frame and of the surface on which films are projected. When colors change slowly, a flat, undifferentiated field fills the entire image. As the speed increases, however, random shapes appear that seem either to sink into an illusory depth or to project into the auditorium space. A dynamic, purely optical space, shifting between two and three dimensions, which is characteristic of our perception of the space in all films, is created."

–Stuart Liebman, l98l