Center for Visual Music



Lichtspiel: Contemporary Abstract Animation and Visual Music

Co-Presented by REDCAT and Center for Visual Music - Nov 3 at REDCAT, Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles


This ravishing “play of light” explores rhythmic abstractions in the cinematic tradition of Oskar Fischinger and visual music animation. The centerpiece of the program is the Los Angeles debut of Joost Rekveld’s #37 (Netherlands, 2009, 31 min., 35mm CinemaScope), a stunningly beautiful study of the propagation and diffraction of light through crystalline structures. Sure to bend more than a few minds, the lineup also offers award-winning animated shorts from around the world, most of which are screening in L.A. for the first time. Featured artists include Scott Draves, Robert Seidel, Steven Woloshen, Bärbel Neubauer, Thorsten Fleisch, Bret Battey, Michael Scroggins, Samantha Krukowski, Mondi, Devon Damonte, Scott Nyerges, Vivek Patel, Yusuke Nakajima and more. Plus the final film by the late CGI wizard Richard “Doc” Baily. With Joost Rekveld in person. Images above courtesy Joost Rekveld and Scott Draves.

Lichtspiel showcases a variety of animation techniques, from handmade camera-less (hand-painted, taped and scratched) films to traditional drawn animation to live-object animation to microphotography and state-of-the-art 3D computer graphics. Visual music styles are just as varied, with some artists like Draves and Baily writing computer code to realize their visions, while others draw inspiration from the pioneering work of Fischinger or the cosmic meditations of Jordan Belson.



Devon Damonte, Welcome Licht (2009), color, sound, 2 min, US, 35mm. A 35mm camera-free, direct-on-film, made-especially-for-this-event invocation summoning the Light/ Licht, assuming the position of Play/ Spiel, calling to order assembled deities for a transcendent incandescent screening. (DD)

Richard Baily/John Buchanan, xtacism (2005), color, sound, 5 min, US. Music: Richard Baily.
Xtacism was created with SPORE, the extraordinary CGI program developed by the late visual effects luminary Richard Baily (1953-2006). Baily called SPORE a “software/aesthetic development project that [grew] out of a proprietary ultra high-speed particle renderer.” He said of Xtacism: "There is no middle, beginning, end, it is like the river, it just keeps on going..." A CalArts alumnus, Baily founded his visual effects animation company, Image Savant, in 1992. His work can be seen in feature films ranging from Fight Club (1999) to Superman Returns (2006), as well as in numerous title sequences, commercials and music videos, including for Madonna and Janet Jackson.



Yusuke Nakajima, INCREASE (2009) color, sound, 6 min, Japan, 16 x9 widescreen (DVCam). Nakajima is a Japanese video artist who lives and works in Osaka. He is interested in visualizing various phenomena existing in the world. This video explores the visual illusion of objects seeming to enlarge in their afterimage.


Michael Scroggins, Adagio for Jon and Helena (2009), color, silent, digital, 5 min, US, HD 16x9 widescreen
Using instruments to compose abstract animation in real-time has been at the heart of Michael Scroggins’ work for over 30 years. The pioneer of absolute-animation performance and CalArts professor dedicates this “continuous-take digital recording from a live solo liquid light projection performance” to his “liquid light teachers Jon Greene and Helena Lebrun.” “I developed the unique techniques used in this performance in 1968,” Scroggins explains, “and have recently revisited them in order to enjoy the immediacy of this particular form of direct physical expression…. [I]t is the affective power found at the edges of gestural control and indeterminate chaos that motivates me.” His absolute animation works have been widely exhibited internationally including screenings at the Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Union of Filmmakers, Moscow; Seibu Ginza, Tokyo; and LACMA.


Vivek Patel, Miserlou (2005), color, sound, 3 min. Music composed by Aaron Kula, performed by Klezmer Company Orchestra.
Miserlou uses abstract elements to create a sensual show. Visual elements come to the screen and exist like actors in a play. Musical parts are expressed visually to draw a stronger association between what is seen and heard. Impeccable synchronization between the two; creates a sweet show for the eyes and the ears.

  Scott Nyerges, POLAR (2007), color, silent, 1:35, US, 4:3
In Polar, Scott Nyerges deploys the melting of the Arctic ice cap as “a metaphor for a body out of balance.” The film/videomaker – who counts Stan Brakhage, Jordan Belson and Scott Bartlett among his influences – writes: “Fissures emerge. Mass transforms. The sea falls into itself. This silent film was created with hand-painted 35mm film strips and digital video.”

clip online at:


Samantha Krukowski, artreading v1 (2008), b/w & color, sound, 8:35 version, US.
A trained architect and art historian, Samantha Krukowski makes painterly abstract videos, often without a camera. “artreading,” she says, “is a response to image saturation in contemporary culture, a critique of image excess as it relates to cultural memory, and a personal attempt to remember images from the multitude presented in the art, architecture and film magazines that appear monthly on my doorstep.” Krukowski teaches design in the Department of Architecture at Iowa State University.



Scott Draves, The Firebird (2007), color, sound, 4:15, US. Music: Kenji Williams, HD 1080p

This homage to Igor Stravinsky’s 1910 symphony is itself an excerpt from Dreams in High Fidelity #2– re-rendered at 2400x2400 resolution for full-dome projection, but scaled down from the planetarium version. Graphics were created by the open-source Electric Sheep, a cyborg mind consisting of 60,000 computers and people communicating with a genetic algorithm, developed by Draves in 1999. Draves also created the Flame algorithm in 1992 and the Bomb visual-musical instrument in 1994. His work is permanently hosted on Draves' work has been featured in Siggraph and festivals and events worldwide. More on the artist at and his blog at



Steve Woloshen, Shimmer Box Drive (2007), color, sound, 3:45, Canada. Beta SP Video, 2:35 widescreen
Reflections, recollections and thoughts from the front seat of an automobile. Thoughts and reflections are common occurrences when driving in traffic. Shimmer Box Drive, created in a small wood and glass box installed in my car catalogs four years of impressions, desires and thoughts about the road ahead.

For the last 25 years, Montreal filmmaker, Steven Woloshen has been invited to show his work at international festivals, museums and galleries. He has lectured on the subject of handmade film techniques and has been commissioned to create short animated pieces for other filmmakers, artists and events. Currently, Woloshen is a member of the Director's Guild of Canada and an Associate Professor at Concordia University's Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal, Canada.


Robert Seidel, futures music video (2006), color, sound, 4 min, Germany. Music: zero 7 feat, José González, Courtesy Atlantic Records. 16 x 9
In futures, according to Robert Seidel: “You will see crushed things, completely abstracted… [coming] together and building up to something we all have seen before… Like our true wishes and desires… [taking] shape over time and [getting] clearer… followed by the next longing… Innuendos, artifacts and… rough synchronization add subtle emotions to the uncertain process that builds the morbid tableaux of all possible futures.” Seidel, who is Berlin-based, considers his work to be an exploration of “organic-digital graphics.”





Thorsten Fleisch, Energie! (2007), b/w, sound, 5 min, Germany. Music by Jens Thiele.

This award-winning work takes the old cathode-ray technology of television and spins it into uncommon realms of visual wonder. Instead of the TV set’s controlled beam of electrons, photographic paper is exposed to uncontrolled high-voltage discharge of 30,000 volts. The outcome is time-lapse poetry that’s been literally charged into existence. Experimental film/videomaker Thorsten Fleisch often applies crystals, fire and electricity directly on 16mm film.




Mondi, Kronos (2005), color, sound, 4:20 min, US. 16 x 9 widescreen. Kronos is the 7th in a series of 10 films predicated on spherical harmonics. A Cal Arts graduate, Mondi lives and works in Stockholm, using custom tools and software to explore the intersections between disparate forms of expression.



Bret Battey, Mercurius (2007), color, sound, 6:09, U.K. 16 x 9
Volatile and unstable, Mercurius shifts rapidly between multitudes of seemingly conflicting states. A sound-synthesis process and nearly 12,000 individual points are continually transformed and warped, restrained and released, without cuts, to form sonic and visual curtains and vortexes evoking both unity and destruction. Using special algorithms, artist Bret Battey creates electronic, acoustic, and multimedia concert works and installations that emphasize continuous flow and transformation, an aesthetic inspired in part by his practice of Vipassana meditation. Battey has earned numerous honors, including the prestigious Prix Ars Electronica, for his work.

Quicktime is online, 47 mb, link on right under images


Bärbel Neubauer, Morphs of Pegasus, work in progress (2004- ), color, sound, 7 min. excerpt. Germany. PAL DVD. Music: Bärbel Neubauer.

Considered one of Europe’s leading experimental animators, Bärbel Neubauer is as adept making handmade films, painting and scratching directly onto celluloid, as she is creating 3D digital abstract animation. The prolific artist has also composed music and her own soundtracks since 1991. Morphs of Pegasus, she says, “is a journey through planet-like worlds and objects of phantasy. There are no cuts; the spectator moves inside the space from one place to the next.”


Joost Rekveld, #37 (2009), color, sound, 31 mins., 35mm Scope, Netherlands.

Joost Rekveld’s latest in his ongoing series of films imagines a multi-dimensional universe – one inhabited by particles that act on their neighbors and organize themselves into constellations with varying levels of symmetry. The constellations produce simulated diffraction patterns, which in turn constitute the film’s images. The International Film Festival Rotterdam has hailed #37 as “an undeniable masterpiece.” Rekveld describes his body of work as inspired by the lesser frequented by-ways in the history of science and technology. More recently, his fascination with the spatial aspects of light and complex organization has prompted him to explore, in addition to his filmmaking, such new fields as cybernetics, artificial life and robotic architecture. Since 2008, the Dutch artist has headed the ArtScience Interfaculty of the Royal Conservatory and the Royal Academy in The Hague.

Rekveld writes: "The inspiration for #37 came from the way crystallographers use X-ray to investigate the internal structure of crystals. This structure can be inferred from the interference patterns the X-ray waves produce after percolating through the symmetrical arrangement of molecules in the crystal. In 1984, X-ray diffraction made the discovery of so called 'quasicrystals' possible; the starting point of #37 were the computer simulations produced by scientists in order to understand such quasiperiodic structures. During the making of this film, these ideas and tools led to the development of what could be called an 'artificial physics': a simulated universe with a variable number of dimensions, inhabited by particles that act on their neighbours and organize themselves into constellations with a varying level of symmetry. The images of the film are the simulated diffraction patterns produced by these constellations. I've started the very first work on this film in 2000, and in the past years this project has been the nucleus around which my interests in geometry, tesselations, complexity, self-organization and artificial life have crystallized."

More about the film here, at the artist's website Light Matters
Joost Rekveld long Bio


 Approx 111 mins


CVM thanks Suzan Pitt and Young-min Son. Images copyright the individual filmmakers and rightsholders.

Please note: Dutch filmmaker and installation artist Joost Rekveld will also appear in person at the first West Coast retrospective of his films, entitled Light Matters, on Nov. 8 at 7 pm at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood. The retrospective is presented by Center for Visual Music and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Four of Rekveld’s films will screen at UCLA, but not #37, which will screen exclusively at REDCAT.

REDCAT is located at 631 West 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 – in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets, inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Parking is available in the Walt Disney Concert Hall parking structure and in adjacent lots. Tickets are $9 for the general public, $7 for students with valid ID. Tickets may be purchased by calling 213.237.2800, at , or in person at the REDCAT Box Office on the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets (30 minutes free parking with validation). Box Office Hours: Tue-Sat | noon–6 pm and two hours prior to curtain.


-----------------ABOUT Center for Visual Music--------------------------

Center for Visual Music is a Los Angeles based archive dedicated to visual music, experimental animation and avant-garde media. CVM is committed to preservation, curation, education, scholarship and dissemination of the film, performances and other media of this tradition - together with related historical documentation and artwork. CVM's archives and library hold the world's largest collection of resources on Visual Music, including the original papers of Oskar and Elfriede Fischinger, and film historian William Moritz; a major collection of preserved film; and extensive videotape documentation and interviews. CVM is currently preserving films by Oskar Fischinger, Jordan Belson, and others of this genre.

CVM's presentations and programs have been featured in the exhibition "Visual Music" at the Hirshhorn Museum and MOCA LA, and at Tate Modern (London), BFI, Guggenheim Museum (NY), Pacific Film Archive, UCLA Film & TV Archive, LACMA Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Osnabruck and many more. Films preserved by CVM have screened at the Pompidou Centre, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum, Tate Liverpool, Louvre, REDCAT and other museums, festivals, archives and cultural institutions worldwide. (CVM's previous REDCAT program was opening weekend 2003, the Jules Engel Retrospective)

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