Creative Sonoma

Center for Visual Music Symposium 2018

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Center for Visual Music Symposium 2018


Center for Visual Music (CVM) is pleased to announce its call for paper submissions for a Symposium on Visual Music, August 14-16, 2018, in association with Sonoma State University.

The symposium will explore the theories, histories, and practices of visual music. It features two days of keynote talks and presentations from international scholars, artists, curators and students, plus a final half day with special sessions on August 16. A series of screenings occur throughout, featuring historic and contemporary visual music works. Set in Sonoma County’s wine country, the symposium also features several special events, including an opening reception the evening of August 13. CFP Deadline is March 23.

What is Visual Music?

“We need a new kinetic, visual art form – one that unites sound, color and form.”  Mary Ellen Bute, 1936

The history of visual music on film extends over one hundred years, with a corresponding bibliography stretching back to Aristotle and Pythagoras. Both historical and contemporary artworks have examined the varied relationships of image and sound, and as the field continues to expand, definitions continue to evolve.

Film historian William Moritz wrote of “A music for the eye comparable to the effects of sound for the ear.”  He wrote about artists’ desires to create [with colored light and film]….”a moving abstract image as fluid and harmonic as auditory music.”  He asked us to contemplate,“What are the visual equivalents of melody, harmony, rhythm and counterpoint?”  Thus, one definition of Visual Music is that of a time-based visual structure that is similar to the structure of a kind or style of music.  Other definitions include a translation of image to sound, or a music visualization that incorporates the original syntax in the new visual composition. Visual music is interdisciplinary and has affinities with other forms of intermedia.

Visual Music is of interest to scholars, students and practitioners in the fields of film/video/digital media, cinema studies and film history, animation, art, music theory and composition, and dance, among others. Its prominent pioneers such as Oskar Fischinger and Walther Ruttmann, are of interest to those working in German studies. The symposium provides a forum to share research, examine the history of visual music as it relates to other arts, and encourage discussion of the future of our field through preservation and education. We will introduce new audiences, particularly students, to visual music through the presentations, special sessions and screenings of films from CVM’s archive.  

We invite papers exploring the histories and theories of Visual Music, as well as analysis of significant work. Papers are welcome from varied disciplines, though we are less interested in exploring the much-examined topic of synthesthesia.  

Deadline for submissions: March 23, 2018