Re: Definition of Visual Music

From: C Keefer (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Apr 30 2009 - 18:18:09 PDT

As most researchers of Visual Music know, extensive articles and essays on numerous aspect of visual music (including many texts on definitions) are available online at Center for Visual Music's online library,

Note that VM scholar William Moritz did not want all of his texts placed online, thus we honor his wishes by only including a selection of his writing on VM.

CVM has a targeted discussion list devoted to such topics as the expanding definitions and practices of visual music, plus announcements of new events, screenings, dvds releases, publications, exhibitions, etc. relating to VM; the list is available to members only to ensure its focus and validity, and exclude spam. We welcome anyone seriously interested in the study and practice of visual music (or simply a Fischinger or Belson fan!) to join CVM's membership and support our work in Visual Music (and collect interesting vintage premiums as well).
CVM does have a free newsletter available to all, with a distribution to thousands worldwide.

We have been in touch with Leo previously, but for any others who may not know - CVM has extensive collections encompassing many aspects of Visual Music. Please visit our Collections and Archives pages for an overview of the collections. CVM owns film historian William Moritz's original research collection/archive of papers, articles, notes, correspondence, photographic materials, etc. from his 35+ years of research, plus his Fischinger research materials; and many more materials donated by The Fischinger Archive. CVM also has a growing Belson Archive. Our collections are large and varied across many aspects of VM (Color organs, light shows, etc); a recent donation has brought us the largest known collection of Hy Hirsh photography in the world.

Current VM film preservation projects at CVM include films by Oskar Fischinger, Jordan Belson and Charles Dockum, and I'm sure most here are aware of our dvd releases and online store carrying visual music dvds (, and our series of curated travelling VM programs.

To avoid continuing confusion among researchers, please note that the Fischinger, Belson and several other collections (and the accompanying rights) were withdrawn from iota in 2003 and are at Center for Visual Music in Los Angeles. Many of the film preservation materials & prints previously produced there by myself and others pre-2003, are now owned by and housed at CVM. Thus, access & viewing copies of these preserved films (and many others) are at CVM. We are aware that this confusion has frustrated researchers and curators, even very recently.

Finally, the historical definitions of visual music by numerous artists and scholars do not include requirements that the work have sound, or be abstract.

I personally believe there is a far greater appreciation, support and attention to visual music in Europe. Perhaps also in New York and San Francisco; but Los Angeles is certainly very low on a list of cities with vital "visual music scenes" (having just returned from showing & seeing numerous VM programs in the UK and Germany). We had over a hundred persons attending our recent Belson and Bute shows in Osnabruck, Germany. Those shows do not draw such audiences in LA.

Cindy Keefer
Center for Visual Music


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