Visual Music – Synesthesia

There have been many attempts to blur the boundaries of sound and visual arts. Instruments for the eyes have been conceptualized since the obscure ocular harpsicord in 1725.

In the early 20th century many artists claim to be affected by synesthesia and incorporate their affliction into their art making.

color-organ
Color Organ invented by composer Alexander Scriabin in 1915 for his Prometheus: Poem of Fire.

Wassily Kandinsky.-Composition IV (1911)
Wassily Kandinsky.-Composition IV (1911)


That’s the one that got accidentally turned upside down, and Kandinsky got the epiphany of non-figuration.

composition VIII - 1923
composition VIII (1923)


Pure painting like music, an “internal necessity” – leap into abstraction.

“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

kandinky-succession-1935

He worked with other composers, making librettos and stage designs.

A student's graphic analysis of music according to Kandinsky’s theories on graphic representation of music made during coursework at the Bauhaus. Bauhaus Archive, Berlin, 1930
A student’s graphic analysis of music according to Kandinsky’s theories on graphic representation of music made during coursework at the Bauhaus. Bauhaus Archive, Berlin, 1930


Experimental filmmakers embrace the idea of visual music. Music as a pathway to abstraction.


Oskar Fischinger – An Optical Poem (1938)


Norman McLaren – Dots (1940)
“Made by painting directly onto clear frames of film, as pictured in the frame enlargements below. Interestingly, the music was created in the same way, painting directly into the area on the film strip usually reserved for the soundtrack.”


Norman McLaren – Synchromy 1971
“To produce the film’s musical soundtrack, McLaren photographed rectangular cards with lines on them. He arranged these shapes in sequences on the analog optical sound track to produce notes and chords.”


John Whitney – Permutations (1968)
Early computer animation, he applied musical principles such as the harmonic progression to the generation of images.

The interest in enhancing musical experiences with visuals re-emerged in the 60s and 70s with psychedelia and the “expanded cinema”


Liquid light shows – overhead projector + live manipulation of fluids. Late 60s – today.
p00189_joshuawhite_web


Exploding Plastic Inevitable events by Andy Warhol, 1966 – 1967


Atari video music, 1976. The first (analog) electronic music visualizer.
atari-video-music-sears


Jeff Minter, Virtual Light Machine 1990, Atari Jaguar
Real-time sound analysis

Live visuals or VJing

Hexstatic+Coldcut 1997 in collaboration with Greenpeace.
This is a 1997 music video but gives an idea of the visuals/sound relationship.


Ryoji Ikeda, musician and installation artist. a/v performance

Sound apps and sound games, some of which I mentioned before


Rez – Tetsuya Mizuguchi – 2001
Inspired by a techno street parade


Everyday Shooter – Jonathan Mak 2007


Thumper – Drool – 2016


Polyfauna – Universal Everything + Radiohead


Panoramical

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