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Blog: Hans Richter from modernist film to post-modern music video

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Dadaist, filmmaker, self-appointed historian of the Avant-garde, and friend of Marcel Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim, Hans Richter was an artist whose influence has extended far beyond his lifetime. As art historian Hal Foster once remarked, “One stands to learn less about Richter from modernism than one does about modernism from Richter; that is, ironically enough, while modernism makes Richter smaller, Richter makes modernism larger.”

As a young filmmaker, Richter sought to create a universal film form based on music. In fact, Richter’s first film, Rythmus 21, was originally called Film ist Rhythmus (“Film is Rhythm”). No wonder he took a commission from Philips to make a film about the experimental PCJJ shortwave radio station in Eindhoven. The product, Richter’s 1931 film Europa Radio will screen on November 5 as part of Jailbreak – Programme 2 curated by Florian Wüst (look for an interview with Florian on this blog next week!).

Richter’s ideas about the meeting point of film and music continue to influence artists today. Check out this music video by Emilski and Nick Duggins for the Fracture & Neptune song “Customtone.” When I met the artists at the Supertoon International Animation Festival in Croatia, they cited Richter as one of the biggest influences on their video’s style.

Did Richter’s eccentric music-infused film vocabulary make its way into Europa Radio? Come to the festival and find out for yourself!

CUSTOMTONE by Fracture & Neptune feat. Martin Fieber from Astrophonica on Vimeo.