Front view
Inv. No.S-2239
ArtistHeinrich Heidersbergerborn 1906 in Germanydied 2006 in Germany



gelatin silver paper, Rhythmograph

Dimensions39 x 31 cm

The rhythmograph, as Heidersberger called his device, was redesigned several times and perfected. The larger version, which was made of a conventional scaffolding, still stands fully functional in the exhibition room of the Heidersberger Institute today and takes up close to twenty square meters of floor space. Using four harmonically muffled pendulums, it creates traces of light on photographic material via a mechanically linked mirror and a point source of light. Three-dimensional images are produced by controlling the frequency, phase difference, amplitude and transmission of the pendulums - two drive the mirror vertically and two horizontally.

Different to the constructive work of his contemporaries, who were following similar ambitions, Heidersberger's light images have a three-dimensional aspect and also include coincidence as a principle in their design. Heidersberger found the inspiration for the multi-dimensional solution in reading a book on "Physics in Graphical Pictures". There he discovered the figures of the physicist Jules Antoine Lissajous and they challenged him to get similar results in photography. From that time on, he called these pictures rhythmograms.

With each structural alteration, the machine became more complex and its use more skilled and more effortless at the same time. By extinguishing the light for a short period of time, for example, Heidersberger discovered new traces and he also began to work on the negatives. As a result of inversion, multiple exposures and sectioning that led to extensive compositions and solarizations, he created a completely new picture language.

His 'machine', as he likes to call it, was paramount to the synthesis of his artistic and scientific interests and still commands an imposing presence in the Wolfsburg Castle today.

In addition to the personal interests described here, the rhythomgrams must also be viewed in their contemporary context. They were very topical at the time of their creation. If we call to mind Applied Art - exemplified by wire and wicker furniture - in the decades after the war or the graphics at that time, the parallels are striking - Heidersberger had his finger on the pulse of the age.

From 1956 to 1968, for example, a rhythmogram was used as the broadcasting symbol of the Südwestfunk Baden-Baden, a regional German television station(...)


S-2239, "Kontinuum"
Heinrich Heidersberger, "Kontinuum", 1950s
S-2239, Front view
© Institut Heidersberger
Heinrich Heidersberger, "Kontinuum", 1950s
S-1923, Heinrich Heidersberger, "Rhytmogramm Nr. 3782/186", c. 1960
Heinrich Heidersberger, "Rhytmogramm Nr. 3782/186", c. 1960
more infoS-1923, Front view
© Institut Heidersberger