This early experimental short is one of only two films completed by Swedish-born artist Viking Eggeling, who worked in Paris, Milan, and ultimately Germany. Finished in 1924 and premiered at a November Group presentation of abstract films in Berlin in 1925 (shortly before Eggeling’s death), Diagonal Symphony utilizes paper cutouts, tin foil, and frame-by-frame photography to create a playful show in which cubist, even art deco, circles and lines dance–diagonally–across the black screen.
Unlike his Dadaist contemporary Hans Richter, Eggeling’s film experiments were not spontaneous creations, but carefully planned to achieve a certain effect. Insisting Symphonie Diagonale be shown without sound, the sequencing of images, movements, and rhythm were intended to produce a sensation of “visual music” in the viewer…or listener? See for yourself!