Compact pulsed power systems require new switching technologies. For high voltages, liquid nitrogen seems to be a suitable switching medium, with high hold-off voltage, low dielectric constant, and no need for pressurized systems as in high pressure gas switches. The discharge behavior in liquid nitrogen, such as breakdown voltages, formative times, current rise as function of voltage, recovery, etc. are virtually unknown, however. The phenomenology of breakdown in liquid nitrogen is investigated with high speed (temporal resolution < 1 ns) electrical and optical diagnostics, in a coaxial system with 50-Ohm impedance. Discharge current and voltage are determined with transmission line type current sensors and capacitive voltage dividers. The discharge luminosity is measured with photomultiplier tubes. Preliminary results of self-breakdown investigations (gap 1 mm, breakdown voltage 44 kV, non-boiling supercooled nitrogen) show a fast (2 ns) transition from an unknown current level to several mA, a long-duration (100 ns) phase with constant current superimposed by ns-spikes, and a final fast transition to the impedance limited current during several nanoseconds. The optical measurements will be expanded toward spectroscopy and high speed photography with the aim of clarifying the overall breakdown mechanisms, including electronic initiation, bubble formation, bubble dynamics, and their role in breakdown, for different electrode geometries (different macroscopic field enhancements).