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    Optical Research: A Curated Visual Music Collection

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2015)

    London, UK, 7 - 9 July 2015


    Jonathan Weinel


    Optical Research is a curated collection of visual music by a group of 12 international artists, which has recently been presented as a DVD, a gallery installation, and will be presented at the British Computer Society Electronic Visualisation and the Arts: EVA London 2015.

    ‘Visual music’ describes a form of filmmaking in which animated visual images of a typically abstract nature are arranged into music-like structures (Brougher & Mattis, 2005). While the origins of visual music lie in the early colour organ inventions or the paintings of artists such as Kandinsky, ‘visual music’ as a form of experimental film-making in the mid 20th Century was pioneered by artists such as John Whitney, Oskar Fischinger, Jordan Belson and others. John Whitney sought to provide a form of ‘visual harmony’ that mirrored that provided within music (Whitney, 1981). Jordan Belson’s work explores similar approaches, but was particularly concerned with the use of abstract visuals in order to reflect music of the ‘inner eye’, which related aspects of internal experience. Perhaps the most well known example of visual music however is Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940), which uses animated cartoon narratives to reflect well-known orchestral pieces of music.


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