Visual Music

Visual Music

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4627-8.ch024
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Visual music projects involve visuals combined with music in various configurations. They may refer to the use of images, light, and sound, such as music and voice, including songs, and also haptic experiences, touch, and gesture. This chapter examines this century-old form of entertainment in terms of the technology options available in the successive decades.
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The Beginnings Of Visual Music

With reference to past events, visual artists worked in the early 1900s on expressing through art the energy and complexity of the new century. Innovative technologies and scientific discoveries of this period brought about new perspectives for creating art works. Artists reinvented the static conventions accepted in previous periods to match recent scientific advancements, cultural shifts, and changes in perceptions of space and time. Developments in psychology and new trends promoting spirituality inspired artists for transcending realistic representation and searching ways to elevate viewers to a sublime sensory level. Many artists found music a pure and abstract form that goes beyond perceivable reality. They expanded their explorations beyond visual arts; their endeavors became known as visual music. An art critic Roger Fry coined this term in 1912, as a set of ideas that create a unity of the senses and link the seemingly disparate phenomena of sight and sound. Artists referred to this term a “color music” and “mobile color” to define their efforts to integrate the senses through art. At the Google Images you may want to type ‘visual music (Images) and visit numerous websites for visual music art works including ‘Capriccio Musicale (Circus)’ created in 1913 by Daniel Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC), ‘Organization of Graphic Motifs II’ created in 1912-13 by František Kupka (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC), or ‘Musical Theme (Oriental Symphony)’ by Marsden Hartley, 1912-13, (Brandeis's Rose Art Museum).

Artists creating visual music alluded to the abstract art and connected their explorations with synesthesia – the merging of the senses and thus a synthesis of the arts. Synesthesia strongly influenced the development of visual music. According to the theory of synesthesia, sensory perception of one kind can induce sensory experience of another; for example, an individual may “see” certain colors when hearing musical notes. In such instances, sight does not negate hearing, but rather the two senses interact to elicit a heightened state of consciousness. While many art forms can evoke sensorial overlap, music has been considered by many proponents of the theory as an exceptional source for this phenomenon.

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