A Consideration of the Absolute in Visual Music Animation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


The idea of the absolute film first emerged in the early part of the twentieth century, reinforcing the philosophical or aesthetic connection between a certain body of non-objective moving image productions and non-programmatic music. Drawing on the notion of absolute music as a music free from extra-musical consideration, the absolute film might sensibly be defined as a moving image presentation that is abstract and non-figurative in nature without overt programme or narrative. This book chapter extends the musical analogy further to draw on two distinct but overlapping musicological claims to the absolute, the formal absolutism of musicologist Eduard Hanslick and the spiritual absolutism of philosophers such as F.W.J Schelling. Reducing the idea of the absolute to two overarching categories, the formal absolute and the spiritual absolute, not only allows for an overview of the changing trends and aesthetics of the absolute film but also provides a methodology for interrogating the moving image work of figures such as Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, Jordan Belson, James Whitney and John Whitney, in the process illustrating how musical ideas can be applied conceptually to the moving image in order to elucidate both the musical and metaphysical characteristics of the text.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExperimental Animation: from Analogue to Digital
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2019


Cite this

Mollaghan, A. (2019). A Consideration of the Absolute in Visual Music Animation. In Experimental Animation: from Analogue to Digital (pp. 37-50)