‘Rhythm 21’ by Hans Richter (1921)

In session we looked at various different videos, one including a three minute video by Hans Richter called Rhythm 21, this video was filmed on 16mm film in 1921. Richter was part of the Dada movement and being an art student I am aware of the Dada art movement and what it was about, however, being a photography student I mostly looked at the photography side of the Dada movement so watching a video by one of the members of Dada I thought would be interesting as if it would be a more visual experience of the strangeness of some of Dada’s work. I always thought that some of their photography was rather strange so I had a feeling that the videos would be too.

At first when the video was playing it felt as if it was an optical illusion with the shapes repeating themselves a lot and then suddenly changing slightly and the sequence the shapes were going it was hard to keep your eyes off them, which saw you following the shapes and it felt a bit like hypnotism, which I kind of expected from something done by the Dada movement.

Rhythm 21 is a very simple but effective video, really it’s just the same group of shapes panning in and out of shot and then gradually moving places and other shapes being introduced into the footage, I found the simplicity and repetition of it eye-catching and although it’s just the same shapes continuously for the whole three minutes, I didn’t get bored of it, it grabbed my attention and made me want to carry on watching, almost like the footage was hypnotising.

I think that the gradual change of colours from background to shapes added to the effectiveness of the footage as it’s the little things like that which you pick up on when watching it, as you’re expecting something different to happen but you possibly wouldn’t notice the change if you weren’t paying enough attention to the video, which is what draws the viewer in.

I would like to possibly experiment with similar ideas to Rhythm 21 as it’s rather simply to do and also effective, the idea would make for an interesting video, however I wouldn’t want to be copying the video bit for bit, I would have to think of a way that I could put my own twist on it.


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