(best with sound muted)

The Reinvention of Cinematic Time in Abstract Film: Hans Richter’s *Rhythmus 21*
Inga Pollmann, The University of Chicago
UL Library: Room 205
4pm, Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This talk focuses on the role of early abstract film in mediating between cinema, on the one hand, and vitalist concepts of life, on the other, and proposes that Hans Richter’s scroll paintings and abstract films from the 1920s constituted a vitalist “reinvention” of the cinema. Informed by Henri Bergson’s concept of intuition and by vitalist theories of rhythm, Richter’s Rhythmus 21 aimed to engender a “living mechanics” that would merge the temporality of the spectator with the temporality of the medium of film (and in this way challenge Wilhelm Worringer’s earlier distinction between “abstraction” and “empathy”). Linking Rhythmus 21 with vitalist thought expands our understanding of the ways in which early film and early film theory understood the relationship between cinematic indexicality and the “vitality” of moving pictures, and emphasizes the commonalities between Richter’s conceptualization of the cinema and contemporary phenomenological film theory.

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