Re: Visual Music

From: C Keefer (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Oct 07 2008 - 20:14:55 PDT

The term visual music has been used for decades to describe certain experimental and abstract film/video work, it's only recently that the definition has been so dramatically expanded to include VJs and other new work. Nowadays it seems to be used randomly with anything that includes image and sound, it's become quite overused.

The term was used in the early 1900s to describe painting. Oskar Fischinger used the term (in English, the exact term Visual Music) to describe his own work, specifically in a text about Motion Painting No. 1 which he wrote in the late 1940s.

William Moritz, Fischinger's biographer, used the term extensively throughout his texts, and used it to describe Fischinger and Belson's work, from the 1960s on. He would have been familiar with Fischinger's use of the term in the 1940s (and perhaps even earlier). Moritz popularized the use of the term in texts through the 1970s, 80s, 90s. He also drew a line tracing it from the term Color Music, used in earlier texts even pre-1900.

Many of Moritz's texts, plus numerous articles containing definitions of visual music, are online at the library of Center for Visual Music at:

Also, the term 'Augenmusik' was used in the 1920s in Germany re the German Absolute Film Movement, according to Brinckmann (this has been translated as 'eye music' but also translated as 'visual music').

The rapid expansion of definitions of the term, and the increased attention to this type of work, is partially due to the 2005 Visual Music exhibition at MOCA LA and Hirshhorn.

And throughout history, whenever an art movement or type of work becomes 'trendy' or popular or draws much attention, so many people then jump on the bandwagon and attempt to label their work as such.

Cindy Keefer
Center for Visual Music / Fischinger Archive

>Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2008 13:26:38 -0700
>From: Santiago Vernetti <email suppressed>
>Subject: Re: The Debate REWIRED on You Tube and Vimeo
>lately I've been having trouble with title of "Visual Music." It's a term
>I've been hearing a lot more often, and I'm wondering what frameworks think
>about it's usage. I'm particularly interested in how the term has become a
>label for the works of filmmakers like Jordan Belson, Oskar Fischinger, Stan
>Vanderbeek etc.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.