Mary Ellen Bute Retrospective: Programme 1 – 1934 – 1937
Rhythm in Light (5:00, 16mm b/w, 1934)
Music: Grieg’s “Anitra’s Dance.” Collaboration with Melville Webber and Ted Nemeth. Premiered at Radio City Music Hall, 1935. In the “Rhythm in Light,” the artist uses visual materials as the musician uses sound. Mass and line an brilliant arabesques from the inexhaustible imagination of the artist perform a dance to the strains of Edward Grieg’s music. The visual and aural materials are related both structurally and rhythmically – a mathematical system being used to combine the two means of expression. (promotional flyer, Ted Nemeth Studios). Review in Time Magazine, Dec. 3, 1934.
Synchromy No. 2 (5:00, 16mm b/w, 1935)
Music: Wagner’s “Evening Star.” Premiered at Radio City Music Hall. “Something pretty advanced and amusing” – New York Times.
A low-quality clip is available online here
Dada (3:00, 16mm b/w, 1936)
For Universal Newsreel. “Animated with Dada humor to a waltz tune. Witty and delightful, it flashes off the screen too soon.” – CUE magazine.
Parabola (9:00, 16mm b/w, 1937)
Music: Darius Milhaud’s “La Creation du Monde.” Based on Rutherford Boyd’s extraordinary sculpture elaborating the parabolic curve.
Escape (4:00, 16mm, 1937)
Music: Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” Escape was based on a simple plot set against a musical background, and employed geometric figures for the action. (Bute)
A low-quality clip is available online here
Mary Ellen Bute Retrospective: Programme 2 – 1939 – 1948
Spook Sport (animated by Norman McLaren) (8:00, 16mm, 1939)
Music: Saint-Saen’s “Danse Macabre.” A new abstract movie in the ‘Seeing Sound’ series by M.E. Bute. “Fun abstract movie that PEOPLE are TALKING ABOUT, filled with disembodied spooks, bats and bones.” -Allene Talmey, Vogue.
Tarantella (5:00, 16mm, 1940)
Piano music by Edwin Gershefsky. “An exciting new technique…Unusual and amusing…” (Film Daily)
Polka Graph (Fun with Music) (4:00, 16mm, 1947)
Began as an actual chart of Shostakovich’s Polka from “The Age of Gold.” Award winner at Venice Film Festival.
Color Rhapsody (6:00, 16mm, 1948)
Music: Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.” Premiered at Radio City Music Hall 1951. “[Bute] transcends her influences; her visual imagination triumphs. I like the romantic flair of COLOR RHAPSODY, its visual density…I think it is time to re-see and re-evaluate all of Bute’s work in a new light.” – Jonas Mekas, Soho Weekly News (9/23/76)
Mary Ellen Bute Retrospective: Programme 3 – 1948 – 1953
Imagination (3:00, 16mm, 1948)
Produced for Steve Allen. “…surrealist film…unreal and delectable shapes floating about…the work of Mary Ellen Bute – a pioneer in this sort of thing whose talents should be more often used.” – Gilbert Seldes, Saturday Review
New Sensations in Sound (3:00, 16mm, 1949)
Produced for RCA TV commercial programs.
Pastorale (9:00, 16mm, 1950)
Music: J.S. Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze.” A pictorial accompaniment in abstract forms.
Abstronic (7:00, 16mm, 1952)
Music: Aaron Copland’s “Hoe Down” and Don Gillis’s “Ranch House Party.” These electronic pictures of the music are a natural phenomena which take place in the sub-atomic world; they are then captured on the Cathode Ray Oscilloscope and filmed with the motion picture camera. The colored backgrounds are hand done and superimposed on the electronic animation of the musical themes. In this movie, film artist Mary Ellen Bute combines Science and Art to create “Seeing Sound” (Press release from Ted Nemeth Studios)
Mood Contrasts (7:00, 16mm, 1953)
Music: “Hymn to the Sun” from The Golden Cockerel and “Dance of the Tumblers” from The Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov. Premiered at Radio City Music Hall. “An abstract film made in this fashion provides, in the making as well as the seeing and listening, one of the most thrilling experiences the motion picture affords.” (Jesse Zunser, “Kinetic Space,” CUE Magazine.)
Biography: A pioneer of visual music and electronic art, Mary Ellen Bute produced over a dozen short abstract animations between the 1930s to the 1950s. Set to classical music by the likes of Bach, Saint-Saens or Shostakovich, and filled with colorful forms, elegant design and sprightly, dance-like-rhythms, Bute’s filmmaking is at once formally rigorous and energetically high-spirited, like a marriage of high modernism and Merrie Melodies. In the late 1940s, Lewis Jacobs observed that Bute’s films were “composed upon mathematical formulae depicting in ever-changing lights and shadows, growing lines and forms, deepening colors and tones, the tumbling, racing impressions evoked by the musical accompaniment.” Bute herself wrote that she sought to “bring to the eyes a combination of visual forms unfolding along with the thematic development and rhythmic cadences of music.” (Ed Halter)
More information can be found on the Center for Visual Music’s Bute page here.
Mary Ellen Bute program and all notes courtesy Center for Visual Music, in association with Cecile Starr and the Women’s Independent Film Exchange. Notes from the Center for Visual Music – more information can be found on their Bute page
Jaroslaw Kapuscinski – Mondrian Variations (10:00, video, 1992)
The art of Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) is known for its ultimate simplicity and pure abstraction. His language became so close to music that the artist himself described it with such musical terms as counterpoint, rhythm, syncopation or harmony. The video is based on five of Mondrian’s paintings, which are transformed, deconstructed and reconstructed as if in a musical variation form.
You can view the variations on Jaroslaw’s site – www.jaroslawkapuscinski.com
Biography: Jaroslaw Kapuscinsci is an intermedia composer and pianist whose work has been presented at New York’s MOMA, ZKM in Karlsruhe, Museums of Modern Art Palais de Tokyo and Centre Pompidou in Paris, National Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and many other venues in Europe, Asia and the Americas. He has received awards at the UNESCO Film sur l’art Festival in Paris (1992), VideoArt Festival in Locarno (1993, 1994) and Festival of New Cinema and New Media in Montréal (2000). Kapuscinski graduated from Academy of Music in Warsaw and University of California, San Diego. Currently he teaches composition and intermedia at Stanford University.
Bret Battey – Sinus Aestrum (8:30, video, 2009)
Sinus Aestum (Bay of Billows) is a smooth, dark lunar plain articulated by threads of white dust, like evanescent tips of flowing and silent waves. Drawing from this image, the sound and image composition Sinus Aestum presents one sound-synthesis process and nearly 12,000 individual points, which are continually transformed and warped, restrained and released, without cuts, to form compound, multi-dimensional waves of activity moving through unstable states between plateaus of pitch and noise. Mathematical processes are transformed into a contemplation of the continual ebb and flow of human experience. Sinus Aestum is the third in myLuna Series of video-music works, which explore the potentials of editless composition with a specific custom audio technique (Compressed Feedback Synthesis) and animation algorithm (which involves 2D and 3D rotational algorithms and Brownian noise displacement applied to masses of individual points). These works also reflect a sensibility formed by the experience of Vipassana Mediation practices.
You can read more about the piece and download a lo-rez quicktime here
Biography: Bret Battey (b. 1967) creates electronic, acoustic, and multimedia concert works and installations, synthesizing a diverse professional and educational background in music composition, computer programming, graphic and web design, and electronics. He has been a Fulbright Fellow to India and a MacDowell Colony Fellow, and he has received recognitions and prizes from Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica, France’s Bourges Concours International de Musique Electroacoustique, Spain’s Punto y Raya Festival, Abstracta Cinema of Rome, andAmsterdam Film eXperience for his sound and image compositions. He pursues research in areas related to algorithmic music, digital signal processing, image and sound relationship, and expressive synthesis, with papers published in Computer Music Journal and Organized Sound. He completed his masters and doctoral studies in Music Composition at the University of Washington and his Bachelors of Music in Electronic and Computer Music at Oberlin Conservatory. His primary composition and technology teachers have been Conrad Cummings, Richard Karpen, and Gary Nelson. He also served as a Research Associate for the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media. He is a Senior Lecturer with the Music, Technology, and Innovation Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.
Joseph Hyde – End Transmission (10:00, video, 2009)
End Transmission combines two long-term obsessions: extremely degraded material on the boundaries of recognisability, and complex audio-visual relationships. It follows a series of experiments where audio and video signals were made to interfere with one another (in a very lo-tech ‘hardware hacking’ scenario). In this instance, I’ve taken the idea of interference more literally. Several pairs of video senders/receivers, of the domestic variety used to transmit satellite tv around the home, were used to send audio and video signals and cause them to ‘jam’ each other to produce the glitchy images and sounds you see and hear (I also used various ham radios etc. in the same way for the audio). This process was quite performative, and many little fragments and gestures were produced, to be edited meticulously, often at the frame-level, into a fixed-media composition. I wanted to combine the spontaneity I’ve evolved through my live audiovisual performances with the rigor of studio-based composition. My aim was to evoke a complex but extremely degraded transmission or message which has the patterns, shapes and structure of a meaningful communication, but with largely enigmatic and barely-recognisable material.
You can watch End Transmission online here
Biography: My background is in music – I’ve worked in various areas, but in the late 90s settled on electroacoustic music; either purely electronic, or with live instruments. Since then, I’ve diversified: electronic music and sound still underpin everything that I do, but collaboration has become a key feature of my work, particularly in the field of dance. My work has become more varied stylistically, from abstract sonic art to more ‘approachable’ material. I’ve also moved into working with video, in a series of fixed-media pieces and installation works. I’ve also become increasingly involved in live performance.
I also work as a lecturer/academic, at Bath Spa University – I’ve been teaching quite long-term there in Creative Music Technology, and have run a number of MA programmes. I also supervise a number of PhD students.
Diego Garro – Patah (18:15, video, 2009)
Patah is an investigation into abstract spectro-morphologies articulated in both the audio and the visual domain. Stylistically, this composition is rooted in the tradition of Electroacoustic Music but the compositional endeavour, instead of revolving solely around the evolution of audible spectra and the construction of a sonic discourse with non-musical material, has been extended to the integrated audio/video media through the utilisation of computer generated abstract animations. One possible viewing strategy can focus on the role of the sonic material in permeating the ‘fractures’ (‘patah’ in Indonesian) in the visual textures and on the dramatic effect that results from this interaction (notes by the author).
Patah was brand-new for this showing – no info online yet!
Biography: Diego Garro obtained his BSc in Electronic Engineering from Universita’ di Padova, Italy, where he collaborated with the Centro di Sonologia Computazionale. He studied Electroacoustic Music with Mike Vaughan and Rajmil Fischman at Keele University, obtaining his PhD in 2002 along with various Higher Education teaching qualifications. His teaching at Keele focuses on Electroacoustic Music, Music Technology and Computer Video Art. His research interests lie in creative electronic media and his output includes audio and audio-visual works which are regularly selected and performed in UK and abroad. His works have often received international recognition in various festivals, conferences and competitions, including prizes in two consecutive years at the Bourges International Competition of Electroacoustic Music and Sound Art in 2004 and 2005.
Larry Cuba – Calculated Movements (6:00, 16mm, 1985)
A choreographed sequence of graphic events constructed from simple elements repeated and combined in a hierarchical structure. The simplest element is a linear ribbon-like figure, that appears, follows a path across the screen and then disappears. The next level up in the hierarchy is an animating geometric form composed of multiple copies of the ribbon figure shifted in time and space. At this level the copies are spread out into a two-dimensional symmetry pattern or shifted out of phase for a follow-the-leader type effect, or a combination of the two. The highest level is the sequential arrangement of these graphic events into a score that describes the composition from beginning to end.
You can see a short, low quality clip of the piece on YouTube here
Biography: Larry Cuba is widely recognized as a pioneer in the use of computers in animation art. Producing his first computer animation in 1974, Cuba was at the forefront of the computer-animation artists considered the “second generation” — those who directly followed the visionaries of the sixties: John Whitney, Sr., Stan Vanderbeek and Lillian Schwartz.
While still a graduate student at The California Institute of the Arts, he was convinced of the artistic potential of computer graphics, but this was years before art schools began teaching the subject. Cuba’s solution was to solicit access to the mainframe computers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and teach himself computer animation by producing his first film, First Fig.
In 1975, John Whitney, Sr. invited Cuba to be the programmer on one of his films. The result of this collaboration was Arabesque.
Subsequently, Cuba produced three more computer-animated films: 3/78 (Objects and Transformations), Two Space, and Calculated Movements. These works were shown at film festivals throughout the world—including Los Angeles, Hiroshima, Zagreb and Bangkok—and have won numerous awards. Cuba’s been invited to present his work at various conferences such as Siggraph, ISEA, Ars Electronica, and Art and Math Moscow and his films have been included in screenings at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Hirshhorn Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Amsterdam Filmmuseum and the Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo.
Cuba received grants for his work from the American Film Institute and The National Endowment for the Arts and was awarded a residency at the Center for Art and Media Technology Karlsruhe (ZKM). He has served on the juries for the Siggraph Electronic Theater, the Montpellier Festival of Abstract Film, The Ann Arbor Film Festival and Ars Electronica.
In the pure form of abstraction that Cuba pursues, visual perception is paramount. But because the images are generated via algorithms written in computer language, there is a paradox in trying to use words to describe images for which words do not exist.
As Raphael Bassan wrote in a 1981 issue of La Revue du Cinema, “The computer animation establishes a parallel between visual perception and a structure of linguistic or mathematical order: it is concerned with establishing a new organizational field for the aesthetic material. …In the sphere of abstract cinema (lacking a better term), Larry Cuba’s research is, in fact, at the origin of a new direction which does not yet have a name…”
Calculated Movements is shown thanks to the assistance of the iota Center
Steve Bird – One (8:30, video, 2009)
Where are you going?
When there really is nowhere to go.
Because wherever you go, you are always “here”.
“There” is a place you can only dream of being.
Or remember having been.
“Here” is the most difficult place to be.
“There” is where you always want to be.
But can never be.
No matter how hard you try.
You can only ever be “here”.
Nothing is forever
And one day you will not be here.
One day even the stone will wear away.
As beautiful as the horizon may seem.
It is, and must always be “there”
Never let yourself forget.
As you wander through this life.
That “here” is the only place you can be.
And “here” you and I and the stone and the hills are as one.
And just for this moment we are all “here” together.
Biography: Having spent the first decade of his working life in the world of the theatre, Steve Bird then spent many years as a visual artist specialising in portraiture, and also as a blues musician, before returning to education as a mature student. In 2005 he graduated from Keele University with a first class honours degree in Music and Music Technology which was followed in 2006 with an MRes in Humanities, during which he specialised in audiovisual composition. He is currently undertaking a PhD in composition, again at Keele, for which he is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Working primarily with video, combining three-dimensional, electroacoustic soundtracks with cinematic narratives, He thinks of his works very much as moving paintings. He likes to deconstruct the world around him and then using imagery, both sonic and visual, he reassembles it in a way that pleases him creatively, in a process is similar to that of a poet or a writer of short stories. “My subject matter frequently reflects the changing face of my surroundings. In fact someone recently suggested that my work is actually about being middle aged and I suppose in many ways they are right. However, as I am middle aged, and I view the world through middle aged eyes that see things very differently than they did when I was younger, I reserve the right to an often cynical view of a world that changes constantly, whether I like it or not.”
Joseph Harrison – Sound Room (4:30, 3D video, 2009)
N.B. 3D GLASSES REQUIRED!
Sound Room has been constructed and developed using a combination of animation, post-production and audio editing software. This composition uses anaglyph 3D graphics accompanied by electroacoustic sound commentaries to explore the spatial visual perception of 3D objects and discover sound-object relationships within a stereo environment.
The sonic space created in this piece slowly develops as each object reveals its unique sound. Each objects sound relates to its individual shape, size and texture. Sound Room demonstrates a very literal connection between the sound and object as the entities movements have been crafted using the unique frequencies of each sound. Although many of the sound object relationships are very obvious, this piece also introduces some subtle interactions such as the piano sound reacting to the lights.
Biography: From an early age music has played a huge part in my life. Much of my childhood was spent discovering new instruments and developing a love for composition. My time at sixth form enabled me to become more interested in computing and develop an understanding for the ways in which technology and music could be combined, an interest that developed further at Keele University. In 2008 I graduated from Keele University with a first class honours degree in Music Technology and Computer Science. Since then I have completed my MRes in Humanities, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, where I focused on audiovisual composition.
Much of my audiovisual work involves animation in order to create imagined environments, this allows me to have control over the movements, interactions and atmospheres created. During my Masters research project I have been able to create abstract motion graphics in anaglyph 3D. This has allowed me to develop relationships between the 3D perspectives of the video and spatial attributes of the sounds.
Oskar Fischinger Programme:
Studie No. 6 (2:00, 16mm b/w, 1930)
[about Studies 5 – 12] ‘absolute graphic fims to music – soundfilm; produced in Berlin, Germany and distributed all over the world’ – Oskar Fischinger, from “Account of artistic creations,” unpublished typescript, n.d.
(c) Fischinger Trust, courtesy CVM, source: CVM Fischinger Research pages at www.centerforvisualmusic.org
Studie No. 7 (2:30, 16mm b/w, 1931)
Norman McLaren: ‘Fischinger was one of the great formative influences in my life. Around 1935, when I was about 20, in my student days at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, I saw for the first time an “abstract” movie. It was Oskar Fischinger’s film done to Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 5.” It is difficult to describe adequately the impact it had on me: I was thrilled and euphoric by the film’s fluent kinesthesia, which so potently portrayed the movement and spirit of the music. The experience made an incredible impression on me, excited a yearning in me, and was to have a profound, long-lasting influence on many of my films’. (c. 1975)
Len Lye: …’Then I saw Fischinger’s Studie Nr. 7 as a short at a regular cinema, and the dynamic dance of abstract light wouldn’t go out of my mind….since I didn’t have any money for cameras and cels, I started drawing directly on film, in experiments that led to Colour Box. Whenever I had a chance, I would go out of my way to see Fischinger films. He was a true, natural genius. He ought to be sainted, but I guess they don’t have Art Saints’.
Studie No. 8 (5:00, 16mm b/w, 1932)
Ornament Sound (7:00, 16mm b/w, 1932)
Kreise (2:00, 16mm, 1933)
[Kreise] used the GasparColor process, which Fischinger had helped to perfect. The film was subsidized by the Tolirag Advertising Agency….The opening section of the film, synchronized to Wagner’s “Venusberg Ballet” from the opera Tannhauser, was created with black-and-white drawings on white paper. These were printed in color by using the positive and negative images as different color masters, since Gasparcolor has three separate emulsions, one red, one yellow and one blue. The backgrounds were filled with circular vortexes borrowed from Fischinger’s Spirals of the mid-1920s. When two different color images overlap, they create an optical third color, or white – a kind of color layering which Fischinger used later in his oil paintings.
The last section of the film…was painted with poster-colors on white paper; the colors were then reversed to negative by changing the color-filters through which the drawings were photographed and printed. (William Moritz, liner notes for Visual Pathfinders laserdisc; Editorial Supervisor, Cecile Starr).
image (c)Fischinger Trust, courtesy Center for Visual Music
Muratti Gets in the Act (3:00, 16mm, 1934)
Komposition in Blau (4:00, 16mm, 1935)
Allegretto (3:00, 16mm, 1936-1943)
Allegretto stands as Fischinger’s greatest achievement in “visual music,” in the strict sense of translating the full complexity of symphonic textures into visual equivalents. Here for the first time he used cels….the cels allowed him to make four and five layers of action for each frame, thus increasing their number to some 100 cels per second of film.
Rhythmic radiating of circles in the background mirror the pulse-like “beat” of the music, while clusters of different forms and colors move about in the foreground, suggesting the melodies, harmonies and tone-colors of various instruments. (William Moritz, liner notes for Visual Pathfinders laserdisc; Editorial Supervisor, Cecile Starr)
image (c)Fischinger Trust, courtesy Center for Visual Music
Radio Dynamics (4:00, 16mm, 1942)
‘I am now starting to shoot the film. I have already done the first tests. It’s going to be a very good work that presents something quite new in the field of optical rhythm. I have gained a whole series of new perceptions during this current work, and these perceptions will be expressed in this film: used and made effective. For example, color mixture, color mutation in rhythmic exchange of color fluctuations on the motion-picture screen, such as is only possible because of the quick image-exchange rate of 24 frames per second. Through this film will be opened, among other things, a wholly new view of the field of color science. The Static, the passive observations of former color science, will be superseded by the Dynamic. This step corresponds to penetrating from the surface into the depths. The clever part lies in fast color change, in the vibration of colors which results in rhythmic life that is accessible through dynamic, climactic gradation. The psychological effect throughout is pleasurable. Concerning the interesting particulars of the temporal intermittence of color mix (one after another) in contrast to the spatial juxtaposition of color mix (side by side at the same time), one could now write a very interesting piece. However, the film must be finished first!’ – Oskar Fischinger, from a letter to Hilla Rebay, August 18, 1940. (c) Fischinger Trust, courtesy CVM, source: CVM Fischinger Research pages at www.centerforvisualmusic.org
image (c)Fischinger Trust, courtesy Center for Visual Music
Motion Painting No. 1 (11:00, 16mm, 1947)
‘All my earlier experiments and studies since 1919 lead up to the technique developed in Motion Painting No. 1. The earliest studies of color films found their conclusion in this work which presents in itself an art form of great significance for the future development of motion picture films.
Motion Painting No. 1 draws its importance from the fact that it records the natural, logical growth of a visual form of art which, without any concession, develops its own possibilities. The unknown, unlimited and unborn possibilities of a creative mind, through this technique developed in Motion Painting No. 1, finds its natural, clear way to let the visual expressions flow without any restrictions or chains and reveal the secrets and beauty of art in its purest and most direct way’. – Oskar Fischinger, excerpt from unpublished typescript, c. 1950, source: CVM Fischinger Research pages at www.centerforvisualmusic.org
Biography: an in-depth Fischinger biography, along with lots of other useful info, can be found on the Center for Visual Music site here. You can also buy a DVD of many great Fischinger works, including most of these, here.
Fischinger programme curated by the Center for Visual Music
Amanda Belantara – Ears are Dazzled, touched by sound (21:00, video, 2009)
A collective exploration of the sounds that surround us, this film features sounds and images inspired by sound diaries kept by local people in Yamaguchi, Japan. An intriguing portrait of the invisible, the film’s unconventional style attempts to reveal the magical quality of sounds that lies hidden in the everyday.
You can watch the movie on vimeo here
Biography: Amanda Belantara is an internationally based video artist and documentary filmmaker. She holds an MA in Visual Anthropology from the University of Manchester and a BA in Anthropology and German Literature from the University of Colorado. Her latest film, Ears Are Dazzled, Touched by Sound was produced during an artist in residence programme in Yamaguchi, Japan. She is currently working on collaborative storytelling and soundscape projects with the art collective, Kinokophone.
Jordan Belson – Allures (7:00, 16mm, 1961)
“I think of Allures as a combination of molecular structures and astronomical events mixed with subconscious and subjective phenomena – all happening simultaneously. the beginning is almost purely sensual, the end perhaps totally nonmaterial. It seems to move from matter to spirit in some way.”
“…it took a year and a half to make, pieced together in thousands of different ways….Allures actually developed out of images I was working with in the Vortex Concerts.” (Jordan Belson, quoted in Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood, p. 160-162).
The soundtrack is a collaboration with Henry Jacobs. Allures was preserved with the support of the National Film Preservation Foundation.
image (c) Jordan Belson, courtesy Center for Visual Music
Biography: Filmmaker and artist Jordan Belson creates abstract films richly woven with cosmological imagery, exploring consciousness, transcendence, and the nature of light itself.
Born in Chicago in 1926, Belson studied painting at the California School of Fine Art (now San Francisco Art Institute), and received his B.A., Fine Arts (1946) from The University of California, Berkeley. He saw films by Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren and Hans Richter at the historic Art in Cinema screening series in San Francisco in the late 1940s, and later, films by John and James Whitney. Belson was inspired to make films with scroll paintings and traditional animation techniques, calling his first films “cinematic paintings.”
Curator Hilla Rebay at The Museum of Non-Objective Painting exhibited his paintings, and upon Fischinger’s recommendation awarded Belson several grants. From 1957-1959, Belson was Visual Director for The Vortex Concerts at San Francisco’s Morrison Planetarium, a series of electronic music concerts accompanied by visual projections. Composer Henry Jacobs curated the music while Belson created visual illusions with multiple projection devices, combining planetarium effects with patterns and abstract film footage. His Vortex work inspired his abandoning traditional animation methods to work with projected light. He completed Allures (1961), Re-entry (1964), Phenomena (1965), Samadhi (1967), and continued with a series of abstract films. His varied influences include yoga, Eastern philosophies and mysticism, astronomy, Romantic classical music, alchemy, Jung, non-objective art, mandalas and many more.
Belson has produced an extraordinary body of over 30 abstract films, sometimes called “cosmic cinema,” also considered to be Visual Music. He produced ethereal special effects for the film The Right Stuff (1983), and continues making fine art and films today, completing Epilogue in 2005.
Biography by Cindy Keefer © Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Center for Visual Music have a Belson page here. They also have a DVD of 5 of his films – including Allures – available.
Tim Skinner – Enclosed (2:49, video, 2007)
For the past nine years I have been keen to explore the visuals behind music, initially back in art school I found myself painting and drawing to music, trying to understand emotional attachment. After graduating in 2003 I started a new body of work, exploring sounds unique ability to move and manipulate water. The first piece created ‘Sonic Circles’ an interactive installation, which allowed the viewer to dictate the visuals created. The visuals soon became the most important part to me, so in July 2007 I naturally progressed into video. ‘Enclosed’ created in September of 2007 and specifically for a Colchester exhibition called ‘Enclosure’, this became my first piece to be shown outside the UK, showing in the US. ‘Enclosed’, explored the sound of the human heartbeat, unlike previous works this piece would be created to generate sensations of feeling trapped, a claustrophobic piece, far from the free, spacial world I had discovered working with water.
You can see a quicktime of ‘Enclosed’ on Tim’s site – www.timskinner.co.uk
Jean Detheux / Michaela Eremiasova – Shade Lost (7:00, video, 2007)
Jean Detheux / Michaela Eremiasova – Shade Recovered (3:30, video, 2008)
“Shade of Falling Leaves” was supposed to be a piece made strictly for live concerts; sort of a visual accompaniment to the magnificent music of Michaela Eremiasova interpreted beautifully by the Eastman Triana. That was the plan.
But it could not stay at that; that music is far too potent, too soulful, too gripping, to be left to live “only” during the few concerts that will invite it, and the images that music gave birth to had to be shared with as many people as possible. So there are two Shades: the concert version, “Shade of Falling Leaves,” and the film, “Shade Lost” (there was going to be a sequel to “Shade Lost,” a shorter and brighter film, “Shade Recovered”). There is a passage, a little after the 4 minutes mark, which, to me, is so painful, something akin to a desperate call for help, that it took many attempts before I could actually get “through” it making the images and yet, once “through,” it all became light, almost easy, effortless. What a journey!
The creative process is worth mentioning: “Shade Lost” is made of multiple video clips that had their colour information disabled before being assembled, composited, modified or added to in Final Cut Pro. At no time during the montage did I see the colour information still contained, but hidden, in those clips. So I knew that, in spite of making a black and white film (fitting the mood of its music), I also was potentially building material for a colour film, a film that would be almost totally “accidental” as far as its colours were concerned. That was in preparation for “Shade recovered,” a film I intended to be brighter, and in full colours, but almost completely unpredictably so. I was however prepared (and committed) to live with whatever the results might be.
I was very surprised to discover,once “Shade Recovered” wax started, and the colour information contained (but hidden) in the source clips revived, to see that the colours were far from being “off” and that sometimes, one can be granted the joy of “fortuitous accidents.”
It is my hope that both “Shades” will be presented during the same events, be they live concerts or film festivals, they are not just made for each other, they are indeed made from each other.
Jean’s site is at www.vudici.net. You can find clips of both these pieces (under Animation > Morphing) here.
Biography: Born in Belgium, Jean Detheux received his academic training at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Liège. Immigrating to Canada in 1971, he taught at various art schools in Canada and the U.S.
He has exhibited his paintings and drawings in solo and in group shows, in Europe, Singapore, Lebanon and the Americas. His work can be found in many private and public collections.
He has also given numerous talks about the phenomenology of vision and the process of creation (member of the Husserl Circle in 1981), he now lectures extensively on subjects such as “Animating in a different key” (in French and English).
He has written, in English and French, many articles on art and animation, reviews of festivals, symposiums, books and software, published by Animation World Network, Sage Publications, and more.
After nearly 4 decades of work with natural media, sudden serious allergies to painting materials forced him to give up “real” painting for digital technology (in 1997). This brought him almost “naturally” to animated film (“time-based art”).
He has since made numerous films (with composers Jean Derome, Michael Oesterle, Hubl Greiner, Thierry Van Roy, Wilfried Jentzsch, Michaela Eremiasova, Pierre Jalbert, Mikel Kuehn and Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven), films which are now appearing at festivals around the globe.
Adriano Abbado – Kayuputih (2:45, video, 2007/8)
KAYUPUTIH is a kinetic artwork, a silent abstract animation that continues the research begun with WONOKROMO.
I created KAYUPUTIH in 2007 and 2008. At first I made several animated sequences. After several months I selected four of them and created three sections and a coda by mixing the four sequences in several ways.
All images depict different kinds of visual noise.
Adriano’s site is at www.abbado.com. You’ll find a clip of Kayuputih here, under ‘Kinetic’.
Biography: Adriano Abbado started to work with digital sounds and images in 1981. In the 1980s he taught at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan and at the Conservatory of Turin. In 1985 he co-wrote the book Immagini con il computer, published by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore. In 2007 he taught Audiovisual Composition at UC Santa Barbara
In 1986 he presented his work at the Venice Biennale. In 1988 Adriano received a M.S. degree from the M.I.T. Media Laboratory with the thesis Perceptual Correspondences of Abstract Animation and Synthetic Sound.
In the last years he has produced several prints, animations and interactive works shown in Barcelona, Jerusalem, Karuizawa, Milan, New York, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Shanghai, and Washington D.C..
He lives and works in Milan and Bali.
Richard Lainhart – Pneuma (5:12, video, 2008)
“Pneuma” is based on growth patterns generated by celluar automata software, processed in Adobe After Effects to create constantly changing structures ranging from crystalline to architectural. The soundtrack is a live improvisation on the Buchla 200e analog modular synthesizer, controlled by the Haken Audio Continuum Fingerboard fretless keyboard. This HD version was rendered in May, 2008.
Warning: “Pneuma” displays an intense, periodic flicker pattern that some may find uncomfortable. Those subject to seizures should not view this film.
You can see Pneuma, along with several other works by Richard, on his vimeo channel here.
Biography: Richard Lainhart is an award-winning composer, author, and filmmaker – a digital artisan who works with sonic and visual data. Since childhood, he’s been interested in natural processes such as waves, flames and clouds, in harmonics and harmony, and in creative interactions with machines, using them as compositional methods to present sounds and images that are as beautiful as he can make them.
Lainhart studied composition and electronic music with Joel Chadabe at the State University of New York at Albany. He has composed music for film, television, CD-ROMs, interactive applications, and the Web. His compositions have been performed in the US, England, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and Japan. Recordings of his music have appeared on the Periodic Music, Vacant Lot, XI Records, Airglow Music, Tobira Records, and ExOvo labels. As an active performer, Lainhart has appeared in public approximately 2000 times. Besides performing his own work, he has worked and performed with John Cage, David Tudor, Steve Reich, Phill Niblock, David Berhman, and Jordan Rudess, among many others. He has composed over 100 electronic and acoustic works. Lainhart’s animations and short films have been shown at festivals in the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, and Korea, and online at ResFest, The New Venue, The Bitscreen, and Streaming Cinema 2.0. His film “A Haiku Setting” won awards in several categories at the 2002 International Festival of Cinema and Technology in Toronto. In 2009, he was awarded a Film & Media grant by the New York State Council on the Arts for “No Other Time”, full-length intermedia performance designed for a large reverberant space, combining live analog electronics with four-channel playback, and high-definition computer-animated film projection.
Nick Cope / Tim Howle – In Girum (6:00, video, 2008)
(in girum imus nocte “we go into the circle by night”)
Using visual techniques analogous to methods of electroacoustic composition, In Girum is the 4th a series works that builds on the collaboration between composer Tim Howle and film maker Nick Cope. The video contains several visual archetypes based on images recorded at a fairground in Scarborough. The first draft of the music was a simple synchronization of sound and image. Through successive re-orderings and superimpositions the sound forms several layers of related material. Some elements synchronized at the level of gesture, other elements providing context and some elements moving ambiguously in and out of the frame. The title refers to the timelessness of the fair, the cycle of the seasons and an annual event that has taken place for hundreds of years. In the present day, at a more prosaic level, cycle becomes rotation and the bonfires have been replaced with garish electric light.
The collaborative methods employed in our work can be seen as hybridisations situated between acousmatic music and video art.
In Girum is online on vimeo, here. You’ll also find the three other movies they’ve made together.
Biography: Tim Howle currently lectures in Electroacoustic music at the University of Hull. Before this he was director of the Electronic Music Studios at Oxford Brookes University. He read music at Keele University, studying under Roger Marsh and Mike Vaughan completing a doctorate in composition in 1999. His work centres on electroacoustic music including pieces for tape, performer and live electronics and pieces involving visual media.
His work has been performed throughout the US, the EU and Asia.
Biography: Nick Cope currently works as Senior Lecturer in Video and New Media Production a the University of Sunderland. Graduated in 1986 from Sheffield Hallam University and worked freelance in film and video production with a particular emphasis on music and moving image work, collaborating with Cabaret Voltaire, the Butthole Surfers, O yuki Conjugate and Electribe 101 amongst others. More recent work has included projection work for public arts projects and installation collaborations.
Bonnie Mitchell / Elainie Lilios – 2B Textures (3:00, video, 2008)
2BTextures is a two movement abstract animation that explores the complex relationship between experimental audio and visuals. This experience takes viewers on an integrated sonic and visual journey into a surrealistic environment influenced by nature.
Biography: Elainie Lillios and Bonnie Mitchell collaboratively develop abstract experimental works focusing on the intricate relationships between audio and visuals. They have created experimental animations and large-scale animated interactive installations that seek to influence the audience emotionally, psychologically, and physically.
Elainie Lillios’s music focuses on the essence of sound and suspension of time, conveying varied emotions and taking listeners on “sonic journeys”. Lillios recently won first prize in the 2009 Councours Internationale de Bourges. She has also received commissions from ASCAP/SEAMUS, International Computer Music Association, La Muse en Circuit, New Adventures in Sound Art, Rèseaux, LSU Center for Computation and Technology, and various performers; she has received awards from CIMESP (Brazil), Russolo (Italy), Schaeffer (France), IMEB (France) and others. Recordings are available on Empreintes DIGITALes, StudioPANaroma, La Muse en Circuit, and SEAMUS labels, plus online at www.elillios.com
Biography: Bonnie Mitchell’s artworks explore experiential relationships to our physical and psychological environment. Screenings and exhibitions include Kalamazoo Animation Festival International, SIGGRAPH, International Symposium of Electronic Arts, Ars Electronica, International Computer Music Association, and many others. Mitchell is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Art at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, USA.
Karen Lauke – Copper Vibrations (8:00, video, 2009)
Copper Vibrations is a piece which explores the relationship of aural and visual material. The composition allowed me to experiment with the variety of sounds that can be produced from one single object. The audio element consists of manipulated sounds that were produced by bowing and striking pieces of suspended copper pipe. Similarly, the video consists of layered and animated still images which were again from odd cut of pieces of copper pipe. Both the audio and visual elements were created simultaneously, as during the process the audio informed the video and the video informed the audio.
Copper Vibrations is part of my PhD portfolio which examines the association that sound has with text, imagery and spatialisation in all aspects of performance.
Biography: Karen is a Lecturer at Edge Hill University and a PhD student at Leeds University studying composition and sound design under the supervision of Ewan Stefani.
Whilst working at Edge Hill University, Karen has been involved in composing music and designing original material for student and professional theatre performances. Credits include: Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Seagull, The Tempest, More Light, The Possibilities, Owl and the Pussycat and The Odyssey.
Karen’s compositions have been performed in Italy, Barcelona, Canada, Lisbon, Prague and throughout the UK. During 2008, Lascia vagare la mente, There must be Silence and Listen were exhibited at the V&A Museum, London; The Cornerhouse, Manchester; and at Deep Wirelesss Festival, Canada. At present her work has been included in the Digital Catalogue Exhibit in Korea which is part of the World Stage Design Exhibition and at the end of September her work will be installed as an outdoor sound installation entitled Memories Unearthed at the Wet Earth Colliery in Clifton Country Park in Salford.
Olga Mink/Scanner – trespassing – extract from ‘Nature of Being’ (4:30, video, 2008)
This video is based on the idea how we memorise and connect data stored in parts of our brain. Intercontextual information is created within moments, memories, images sounds, that have occured in the past. The video touches the subject of how people share a single event together, yet experience “reality” completely different.
You can watch ‘trespassing’ on vimeo here.
Biography: Olga Mink works in the fields of new media, live performance, video- and interactive art, exploring new possibilities in digital representation. With a strong emphasis to conceptual approaches, her work crosses boundaries between music, photography, architecture, poetry, nature, dance, public spaces and engaged themes. Her installation Ballet Mechanique explored the idea of physicality in the virtual (projected) environment, whilst Video_matic employed touch screens and online interactive works as part of a permanent installation for a new building. Work has been released on labels internationally, whilst her expansive live performances been seen in Europe, United States and Japan. Her works have been displayed at Tate Britain, Empac New York, Sonar in Spain, and the Grand Canaria Biennial amongst others. She also works as a curator in audiovisual arts and digital media. Mink lives and works in The Netherlands.
Biography: Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner is a conceptual artist, writer, and musician working in London, whose works traverses the experimental terrain between sound, space, image and form. Since 1991 he has been intensely active in sonic art, producing concerts, installations and recordings, the albums Mass Observation (1994), Delivery (1997), and The Garden is Full of Metal (1998) hailed by critics as innovative and inspirational works of contemporary electronic music. He recently scored the hit musical comedy Kirikou & Karaba and premiered his six-hour show Of Air and Eye at the Royal Opera House London in late 2008. Committed to working with cutting edge practitioners he has collaborated with Bryan Ferry, Radiohead, Laurie Anderson, The Royal Ballet, Steve McQueen, Philips Design, Mike Kelley, and Douglas Gordon. His work has been presented throughout the United States, South America, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Andy Willy – untitled (11:00, video, 2009)
This piece, currently untitled, is the latest in a series of works created to explore the interaction between audio and visual gesture/texture combinations. The project investigates whether an audiovisual soundtrack can develop from mere sonic commentary of existing visual gestures, to synergetic audio-visual objects in which both media equally contribute to the whole.
Untitled was largely created using the Max/MSP/Jitter environment. By defining several algorithmic processes, video material was created by manipulating pre-constructed audio material. The audio material was then reprocessed to create and further manipulate the visual element.
The work was created in 720p HD with a 5.1 surround soundtrack. Due to technical restraints, today’s performance will be a standard definition stereo mix of the piece.
Biography: Andy Willy is a sonic artist and audiovisual composer from the UK. He is currently a PhD student undertaking practice-based research in audiovisual composition at Keele University, supervised by Dr. Diego Garro and Prof. Rajmil Fischman, and funded by a full Keele University doctoral award. More information, including the current beta version of the software used for this composition can be found at www.andywilly.net
Rajmil Fischman – ¿Te Acuerdas Hijo? (16:40, video, 2007)
¿Te Acuerdas Hijo? is dedicated to the memory of my father, Alberto Fischman (1920-1983).
The text appearing in the video is taken from the beginning of the Medieval Spanish poem Coplas on the Death of My Father, by Jorge Manrique (1440-1479), translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
O let the soul her slumbers break,
Let thought be quickened, and awake;
Awake to see
How soon this life is past and gone,
And death comes softly stealing on,
The words spoken at ca. 9:00 translate as follows:
Do you remember son?
Here I also see you …
¿Te Acuerdas Hijo? was a finalist in the multimedia category of the 34th Bourges International competition, 2007. Performances include: University of Aveiro, Portugal; MANTIS South-North Weekend Festival, Manchester, UK; Visual Music Marathon – Boston Cyberarts Festival 2007, USA; International Computer Music Conference, ICMC 2007, Copenhagen; CynetArt VM Festival, Dresden; Visiones Sonoras Festival 2007, Mexico; austraLYSIS, Sydney, Australia.
Biography: Rajmil Fischman was born in Lima, Peru, 1956, attended musical studies at the National Conservatory of Lima, at the Rubin Academy – Tel Aviv University, Israel and at York University, UK, where he obtained a DPhil in 1991. He studied composition with Abel Ehrlich (Rubin Academy) and with John Paynter and Richard Orton (York). He also obtained a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), in 1980.
He is Professor of Composition at Keele University, where he established the MA/MSc courses in Digital Music Technology and the Computer Music Laboratory. He was artistic director and principal conductor of the Keele Philharmonic Society (1990-1995), director of music (1998-2000) and Music Technology Porgramme Director (2001-4).
While at York, he joined the Composers’ Desktop Project (CDP), becoming a director in 1988. He is member of RedAsla, the Peruvian Circle of Composers (Circomper) and Sonic Arts Network, UK.
His main activities focus on instrumental and electroacoustic music composition, electroacoustic music theory and music software development. His compositions have received international performances and been broadcast worldwide.
Toby Cornish and Owen Lloyd – Rückbau (interactive installation, work-in-progress)
Rückbau is a generative film with accompanying generative soundtrack, programmed in Max/Msp/Jitter and shown as projected video from a computer. An initial, test, version was shown at the Royal College of Art in their exhibition Moving Frame, part of the 2006 London Design Festival.
Rückbau consists of 16mm and Super 8 images of the dismantling of the Palast der Republik in Berlin, which housed the East German parliament and a cultural centre. Its architectural structure forms the basis of the film. This hangover from the former communist regime has been removed to make way for a reconstruction of the Stadtschloss, the building from the Prussian regime that was demolished to make way for the Palast. It seems a strange way of dealing with history but it has made for some lovely footage. The piece was first shown in its incomplete form because the dismantling of the building took three years longer than expected and was only completed in February 2009.
The initial aim of this project was to make visual a numerical progression, centred on the number of verticals and horizontals within images of the building frame. This was realised with rapid fire sequences of shots running through number sequences of vertical and horizontal elements. As the piece has progressed the aims have expanded to address the qualities of the film footage. The focus has shifted to a more poetic approach, incorporating longer form shots of the surrounding area, giving context to the bursts of vertical and horizontal grid. It has become a hypnotic space, interrupted by grid bursts and the occasional builder.
There is also a conceptual/technical concern, which is to address the problem of showing film work in a gallery. We both feel that linear film can suffer in the gallery context. A linear narrative can be disrupted by the way in which the audience arrives or leaves in the middle of the work, potentially destroying any narrative arc by experiencing the beginning, middle and end in the wrong order. Our solution is to make the work generative in nature, not in terms of the materials, as the visuals and most of the sounds exist as discrete files, but in terms of the editing systems for both image and sound.
Conceived during a research project on the moving frame in film and digital media, the film has a structure which is determined by parameters within software created using Max/Msp/Jitter. These parameters shape the film, using a variety of shots in a number of different categories, they determine how long each type of shot lasts and in which sequence. The result is a dynamic editing system, endlessly composing both image and sound.
A ten minute extract of the test version is available to view at http://www.repeat-to-fade.net/project/ruckbau. The final version will have the same kind of feel but with a fifteen minute loop of probability tendencies so that over the loop duration the images and sounds will gradually become more empty.
Biography: During a Graphic Design BA at Camberwell College of Arts and then MA at the Royal College of Art, London, Toby Cornish started making film projections and installations, using the available low-tech equipment to an aesthetic and conceptual advantage, creating images and manipulating them without the use of computer special effects.
Now based in Berlin, he continues to use super 8, 16mm film and slide projectors to make both personal short films and installations for clients and music events as part of the film and design group Jutojo.
Biography: Owen Lloyd is a composer and sound artist who’s practice and professional work focus on sound and interaction. He conceptualises and builds systems for creating compositions from a variety of tracked and random inputs, hoping to reveal the shapes and time intervals of events in musical forms.
His work has been presented at concerts, conferences, experimental film festivals and exhibitions, in the cinema and on television, beside swimming pools in Miami, and elsewhere.
He is also actively engaged in research and is studying for a PhD in Sonic Art at Bath Spa University.