Center for Visual Music


photo courtesy Robin D'Arcy

Richard "dr." Baily

1953 - 2006


This is CVM's tribute site to Doc Baily - an extraordinary artist, a beloved friend, and a major supporter of CVM in its early years. Biography. Other links below.


Baily DVD


DVD A DVD of doc's personal art films was released by CVM (2014). Richard Baily and John Buchanan: experiments in spore. Includes 3 works: xtacism, aura and doc's Cal Arts film Night Waves. NTSC, Region free, 4x3. $25 private home use, $150 institutions/libraries. Additional fees for public installations/public screening. Ordering information

Excerpt from Night Waves (1977) on



Doc Baily died suddenly on April 20, 2006. A memorial celebration was held in Los Angeles on June 24, 2006, at California Institute of the Art's Main Gallery, in Valencia, CA. Nearly 200 friends and family attended. Doc's VFX work was featured looped on 5 monitors, and his framed graphic art was displayed throughout the gallery. Speakers included Jeremy Strick, Kevin Tod Haug, John Nelson, Ash Beck, Kenny Mirman, Michael Scroggins, Cindy Keefer and others. Invitation to the Memorial (pdf). Above, buttons produced for the memorial. Richard Baily's artwork on display at the Memorial (photo courtesy Liza Simone).

Richard's film Night Waves (1977), made at Cal Arts, plus other works by doc, are in the collection of CVM.



Screenings/Exhibitions of Richard's films:

February, 2023: Night Waves is included in the group show "Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952-82" at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, through July. Looped on monitor along with a film by John Whitney, Sr.

August, 2014: xtacism screens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalum film festivals.

2013 - Night Waves in CVM's New Restorations and Discoveries program at Hammer Museum/UCLA Film and Television Archive, Los Angeles, December

2009 - REDCAT Theatre, Los Angeles. xtacism (2005) by Richard Baily and John Buchanan, in CVM's Lichtspiel show in November.

2008 - International House, Philadelphia, xtacism in CVM's Essential Visual Music: New Visions program.

2006 - Los Angeles, xtacism, at the Visual Effects Society's Festival of Visual Effects, Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, CA.

2005 - LA Filmforum, xtacism in a CVM program of visual music films.

2005 - Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Premiere of xtacism, in a CVM program accompanying the Visual Music exhibition at MOCA (see below).


Baily's statements, musings, recollections (from emails and listserve posts)

"my life fascinates me. i am held aloft by angels, even when they seem to have abandoned me." - Sept. 2003

March 2005 - CVM presented "An Evening of Visual Music Films" at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles as a special accompanying event to the Visual Music exhibition. The full program for that evening is here. We were very pleased to present the LA premiere of:

Richard Baily and John Buchanan, xtacism, 2005, 5 min

"Xtacism was constructed from old "footage" that i had laying around from SOLARIS and STAY, two feature film projects that i've worked on during the last 2-3 years. in this sense, it is junk art, like herms' assemblages. there is no middle, beginning, end, it is like the river, it just keeps on going." - dr.

Doc, who'd been a donor to MOCA in the past, claimed that night was one of the highlights of his life in recent years, having own work shown at MOCA. Xtacism was next screened at CVM's show at the Los Angeles Filmforum on May 1, program here. Doc wrote via email, "those were a couple of evenings i will never forget. john and i were heroes for 15 minutes... "

"i had a great time thursday night, and its the first time in my 30+ year career that any of my own work has been shown in a museum setting, and it has special meaning for me to have it shown there. i was one of MOCA's founders back in the 70's. hurrah! hip hip hurrah!"

"john and i were honored to be part of the screening. i remember the first time i saw belson's samadhi in the early 70's, i realized that this was where i was headed, there was no question, no doubt, no discussion. i just had to figure out how to get there. 30 years and a lot of miles and trials later, my work is shown in the same screening with his (twice now!), and i realize i have reached some level of parity with my great, irascible, largely unsung hero who i have been championing to others all this time and who i believe is the pre-eminent artist of the 20th century still alive. this is a huge accomplishment, beyond accomplishment, a miraculous dream come true, the circle coming around and closing around my friends and i. it is difficult to express the satisfaction that i've experienced in the last few weeks." (posted to CVM discussion list)

"CVM is finally established as THE primary channel of visual music divinity"

Doc on his other work (from the CVM discussion list):

if y'all have not seen Soderbergh's Solaris remake, i urge you to rent a copy of it and spend some time with it. i have about 40 shots in there which are the most majestically LSD thing i have ever seen in the cinema. the theatrical space does not translate very well into DVD format, but my work still shines through pretty well.

(About Spore, written Sept 2003) i go around to studios and various facilities here in town and i see quite a few computer screens that are using one of my pix as their desktop image. i am flattered by that. the result of this experiment is that there is this tremendous buzz going around about this wacky dude who lives up in a treehouse that wrote the code with some of his pals and nobody else anywhere can make stuff like this. i still get fan mail and 1000's of people have visited it.

(About Spore) i wrote the Spore code during a manic...episode in the winter of 2001/2002. it was without any doubt the lowest point i ever reached in my life, it looked like it was all over for me. i asked myself "well sh*t man, if the ship's going down, what is the f*ckin coolest thing that i could possibly create". i had nothing to lose at that point which was incredibly insane and liberating at the same time. the work begun during that indescribably awful period of my life is arguably the best work i have done to date.

you think people just set down the sunday paper and declare that they are going to build an empire? no siree, it takes extraordinary motivation. there are times when every keystroke i pounded out here was an arrow aimed at something or someone i hated. i don't feel that way today, but huge advances were made during these periods.

from Spore

"my aesthetic inventions and expressions have been "ripped off" so many times i lost count long ago....creativity is a paradox and a catch-22 to say the least, if you don't show it then you go nowhere, and if you do show it then its going to be copied, especially if its innovative in any way....i need to surpass myself now, the stuff i've been doing with the spore is like 3 years old now, i've been writing some new modules for it and now is the time to see if they're useful. up until now, spore designs were self-contained products of chaos math, i've added the ability to draw things into the canvas now." (from email to G. Stadnik)

Other statements from Doc, mostly from the CVM discussion list:

"i am an extravagant, reckless, risk-taker"

"i am an artist, i think for myself, i question authority"

"you can create great things despite ANY existing circumstances"

i experienced the same depth of awakening when i saw belson's films for the first time, that others here experienced with the whitney's and/or others. john senior's work never turned me on... i felt then and still think today that len lye's work is really cool. but jordan seemed to have an open channel to the godhead, like stevie ray vaughn did with guitar blues. i keep looking for the humanity in abstraction, cosmic snapshots, fractured glimpses of the larger unseen world that we live in. no other filmmaker has even come close.

(About his personal work) my work is neither cinematic nor narrative and it isn't trying to be. i am pursuing a not altogether new, yet not well traveled path which i am calling "passive video". there are analogues... aquariums, fireplaces, lavalamps, eno's ambient music, doctor's waiting room music. in fact i would refer you to eno's music for airports. these pieces are meant to be environmental background "fill" intended to enhance the space that people inhabit, and not be the foreground element in anyone's awareness. like ambient music, you can check in on it, and leave it for awhile. and check into it again with a different level of focus and concentration, and then leave it again to change the baby's diapers. i would like to FILL a repeating DVD with this kind of material someday but its going to take a lot of time. actually i have better ideas for accomplishing a similar type of entity which i am hoping to have a prototype made of before this years end.

(About Jules Engel, his mentor at Cal Arts) what a gentle soul. To me, Jules was the uncle that keeps telling you "you can do it, kid" - email to C. Keefer, Sept. 2003

(About Jordan Belson) for me, personally, this whole field of visual music starts and ends with his work. everyone else, including me, are just hobbyists. (CVM Note: Link to Jordan Belson DVD page)


rock on


doc's backyard, 2005. Photo by C. Keefer


Image Savant - Doc's site

Kevin Haug's tribute story at - April 24, 2006

Robin D'Arcy's blog, set up for friends and colleagues to post their remembrances and photos of Doc.

Doc's work is featured in a chapter of the recent book: CGI: The Art of the 3d Computer-Generated Image by Peter Weishar (available on


Other Doc-related links:


dr in Cinefex

"Digitizing the divine" in Montreal Mirror, 2005

"Sculpting with Light" on, Jan. 1, 2003

"One Hour Photo" on, Oct. 1, 2002

info re Baily's work in the Artbeats series

Image Savant on

Daalder, Rene. Focus: Richard Baily's Trojan Horse. Contemporary Magazine, Issue 57, 2003. UPDATE to this article: Jordan Belson and his films are no longer affiliated with the company noted


Contact CVM at cvmaccess (at)

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images courtesy Richard Baily, (c) Kevin Baily unless otherwise noted