Sorting Muses.

Before venturing too far into the exploration of a new art form it would be very useful to first have some overarching understanding of how all previous creative expressions of humanity interrelate. Gaining such insight is not a simple exercise as aestheticians have struggled since the ancient Greeks to find the common path from inspiration to diverse art forms. ( Unfortunately muddying the critical language of most art-forms in the process). Thankfully where many previously have stumbled my old Russian friend Bulat Galeyev (2 Oct 1940 ~ 5 Jan. 2009) with his late "Prometheus" Institute eloquently expounded a Periodical System Of Art ( Unfortunately Bulat'” website vanished with his death. Fortunately the Wayback Machines has copies here*/ Then from the home page follow the links > About Institute Prometheus > There is no history without theory ) [ footnote help for some of paper's content.].


Since the Industrial Revolution there has been a new art form, slow but steadily festering at the nexus of sound and vision.  Musician wishing to add the colour of light to their compositions,  plastic artist desiring their works to dance and move, and lastly film-makers pluming the universal communicative qualities of abstraction.

Unfortunately the practitioners & critics are yet to settle on a common name for this eclectic mix of musical and visual traditions.  At various times having being  called by a variety of names;- .  'Mobilcolor', 'Color Music',   'Absolute Film' & 'Abstract Animation',  'Lumina',  'Kinegraphics',  'Pure Video' or the some-what ambiguous conglomeration 'Visual Music'. 

Fred Collopy on the iota list has observed "…'visual music' is a problematic term, since it privileges (by putting in the noun position) music. Thomas Wilfred proposed lumia as a term for unifying the art." Check-out Fred's thoughts on this at

Personally I would think terms like 'Colour music',  'Lumina' or 'Kinegraphics' are  more schools within the broader endeavour.  Especially in that that have strong historical resonance around certain explorers or styles.  Just like all music is not Jazz, or Rock, nor is all painting Cubism or Surrealism.

To my mind the problem with the term 'visual music' is different in that 'music' is traditionally limited to be about sound. If one argues that 'visual music' is for visuals, what 'audible music' is for sound.  Then a lot of the works are not about 'Visual Music', but rather the merger of Visual Music with Audible Music, a Visual+Audio+Kino projections (the iota charter specifically excludes kinetic sculpture).

So for want (at the moment) of a better word I just going to call the thing "Vizsic".


A passing awareness of the history of this art the highly recommend. A good place to start would be "iota, The Center for Abstraction in Media Art. Abstract Animation in Film, Video and Computer Graphics, Visual Music. " on the web at  on the web at

Aesthetic Evolution.

The history of development of new forms of communication or media's, is usually marked by a distinct progression of forms.

1.You have the structure/aesthetics of parent forms aped in the new form. eg Early photographs use of aesthetic of genre painting of immediate past.

2.Occurs once the technological problems are sufficiently mastered to allow experimentation into the media innate possibilities, by borrowing's from forms beyond the parental one, eg animations incorporation of the illustrators craft into the film media. 

3.Final stage occurs when the medium having a mature structure is fragmented under the influence of other disciplines exploiting it desires, outside of the media's original domain. A cross-fertilisation through innovation in usage tend to spout new sub-cultures or alternative mediums. (eg: the interaction of the computer sciences, with psychology and psychiatry to give birth to fertile fields of robotics and Artificial Intelligence. )

By the First World War the mainstream of film culture had reached the stage which occurs once the technological problems are sufficiently mastered to allow experimentation into the media innate possibilities, by borrowing's from forms beyond the parental one, (eg animations incorporation of the illustrations craft into the film media). The Avant Grade was pushing hard eg   Fernard Léger 'Ballet Méchanique' 1942; Vicking Eggling 'Diagonal Symphony' 1921-25.

 Art and Music were placing great demands on the (abstract) film medium at this time, which did not have the technological stamina to see these dreams beyond 10 minutes, due to the slow consuming, labour intensive nature of the craft, thus the examples are few and far between.

 Len Lye 'Rainbow dancer' (1936); Oskar Fischinger 'Allegretto' (1936)  'Radio Dynamics' (1941); Walter Ruttmann Opus I-IV (1921-27)

 Nearly 30 years where to pass before technology started to catch the dreams. Complex electro-mechanical, then analogue and digital computers finally provide the technological muscle for the Whitneys.

 John & James 'Five Film Exercise' 1943-44

 James 'Lapis' 1963-66;  John 'Catalogue' 1961, 'Permutations' 1967

 This new-media of visual music is now growing out its film and video heritage, is now passing into the  development defining it's own unique aesthetic and vocabulary.

Aesthetic Debates

The iota email-list has seen a lot of (sometimes heated) debate about the whole breadth of history and practice in the field (of Vizsic) and other neighbouring art-forms. With James Ellis kind assent, and caution that he "..ultimately will wish to distance myself [James] from this in the future.." I've include the entirety of James's post about many of the trouble-some issues of the visual ~ audio fusion;- "Color/Sound one to one, 10 fingers, ten toes, and a bee".  Barry Spinello also kindly agreed to me posting his " on the question of the relationship between seeing and hearing, and the implications this relationship may have for artists who wish to create.." ;- " Re: Into Action: (candid speculation and the forces of nature) ". 

Aesthetic Fusion

A primary difficulty in any defining of unique vocabulary is the struggle with the semantic quicksand of knowledge codification across the contributing traditions, in a fumbling effort to reduce some of the ambiguity I've drafted a kind of Aesthetic Periodic Table for Vizsic Semantic Fusion. The structured list that expands the Visual Design Theory's Elements (things you work with) & Principles (the way you work them) to the wider context, thus I hope will address most people needs..

BTW: While these works has been copyrighted for the protection of the works' integrity. I would be most welcoming of any enquiries to undertake faithful translation / adaptation of the Aesthetic Periodic Table for Vizsic Semantic Fusion . &/or the Absolute Kinegraphic Notation System 2.2 to languages & cultures other those of English speaking traditions. 

Quest to Map Pitch to Visuals

Pitch≈Kleur a plausible solution to the strong romantic and historical desire for some sort of regular mapping of pitch to colours.

Absolute Kinegraphic Notation System 2.2  ©.
The AKNS is to the understanding of movement and space, what the invention of the musical score was for the notation of the harmony and rhythm of sound.
Version 2.2 (November - 2007) Superseding ALL Previous Versions of AKNS documentation with many enhancements has been reordered, reflecting a more rigourous, efficient while conversely elaborate notation system.

Footnote explanation for Periodical System Of Art by Bulat Galeyev:
1) 'Labyrinth' was a name for the 'art of controlled artificial medium' popular in early sixties. That was an installation which actively reacted to the spectator(s) approaching. Of course there were no powerful computer technologies in those early times; it was realized by more simple audio-visual means.
2) '
Laterna Magica" a theatrical project developed by J.Svoboda. The performance included the dialogue of live actor with the virtual one, who was shown only on the screen (of TV, cinema, computer and so on)

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