Center for Visual Music



Two Essential Visual Music Programs from CVM

Rare Classics and New Visions


Program 1 - Essential Visual Music: Rare Classics

This new program of rarely screened films from the CVM collection features a range of works from experiments by German film pioneers to light show psychedelia to experimental animation classics, and highlights the evolving technology and artistic sophistication of visual music. Several of the works in the show were designed to be used in performance contexts, light shows and other expanded forms of cinema, often with independent musical accompaniment. Accordingly, one of the themes that emerges from this program is a dialogue between structure and spontaneity in visual music. A number of these films were made in Southern California, and include early experiments in computer graphics from UCLA in the 1960s and Cal Arts in the 1970s. Many of the prints in this show represent recent preservation work by CVM.


R-1, ein Formspiel, Oskar Fischinger [1993 Moritz Recreation], Original c. 1926-1933, Germany, b/w, tinted and color, 35mm Cinemascope (NOTE: For certain venues, we can provide a 35mm Cinemascope print, for others, the show includes a 16mm single panel print of some of the experiments used in R-1 ein Formspiel). Accompanied by soundtrack on CD. A selection of Fischinger's abstract film experiments used in his 1920's multiple projector performances in Germany. Includes some Gasparcolor tests made by Fischinger in 1933 with the new 3 strip color process he helped to invent (not a part of the original 1926 performance, but used by Moritz for his recreation). 35mm "Recreation" version by William Moritz/Fischinger Archive, made possible with the support of the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt.

Komposition in Blau (Composition in Blue), Oskar Fischinger, 1935, Germany, color, sound, 4 min. 35mm. Preserved by Academy Film Archive.

Dockum Mobilcolor Performance at the Guggenheim Museum, Charles Dockum, 1952, color, silent, 7 min, 16mm. Made with the assistance of Ted Nemeth and Mary Ellen Bute. Preserved by CVM.

Demonstration of Mobilcolor Projector and 1966 Mobilcolor Performance Film, Charles Dockum, 1966, color, sound, 7 min, 16mm. Short documentary explaining the operation and techniques behind Dockum's Mobilcolor Projector, his invention to compose and play colored light. Plus a film illustrating a Mobilcolor performance. Preserved by CVM with support from the NFPF.

Muntz TV Commercial, Oskar Fischinger, 1952, b/w, sound, 1 min, Originally 35mm, screened on 16mm.
The Muntz TV commercial was painted in the same technique as Motion Painting No. 1 (but consciously limited to shades of black, white and grey), and at its best moments, with the same vigor and brilliance. One can only wish that Fischinger had gone through with his plans to prepare a totally abstract version. (William Moritz, Optical Poetry)

Mood Contrasts, Mary Ellen Bute, 1953, color, sound, 7 min, Originally 35mm, screened on 16mm.
Premiered at Radio City Music Hall, New York. Advertised as "New Sensations in Our 'Seeing Sound' film series" and as "Pioneering Electronic Animation." A publicity flyer from Ted Nemeth Studios says this film "is electronically animated and represents the actual pictures of the music....It is a marvelous combination of science and art and is abreast with the great public excitement and enthusiasm over these fields of science. It combines many of the elements astute showmen are seeking today."

Cibernetik 5.3, John Stehura, 1960-65, 8 min, digital.
John Stehura's spectacular film combines computer graphics with organic live-action photography to create a new reality, a Third World Reality, that is both haunting and extraordinarily beautiful. (Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema). Made in a basement at UCLA.

Turn, Turn, Turn, Jud Yalkut, 1966, color, sound, 10 min, 16mm. Sound by USCO. Preserved with the support of the NFPF. A kinetic alchemy of the light and electronic works of Nicolas Schoffer, Julio Le Parc, USCO, and Nam June Paik. Preserved by CVM with NFPF support.

Single Wing Turquoise Bird Light Show Film, SWTB, 1971, color, sound, 5 mins, 16mm.
Film document of light show performance by Peter Mays, Jeffrey Perkins, Michael Scroggins, Jon Greene, Larry Janss and Rol Murrow, including film footage by David Lebrun, Pat O'Neill, and John Stehura.

Tanka, David Lebrun. 1976, color, sound, 9 min. TANKA means, literally, "a thing rolled up". Tanka, photographed from Tibetan scroll paintings of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, is a cyclical vision of ancient gods and demons, an animated journey through the image world of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Preserved with support from the NFPF and Film Technology, Inc.

Celebration, Jules Engel, 1978, color, sound, 4 min, 16mm. Preserved with support from the The National Endowment for the Arts.
A dance of color and form. Engel wrote of his films: "The emphasis, then, is on the development of a visual dynamic language, independent of literature and theatrical traditions, demonstrating that pure graphic choreography is capable of its own wordless truth." Preserved by CVM with NEA support.

3 Arctic Flowers, Jules Engel, 1978, color, sound, 3 min, 16mm, preserved by CVM with NFPF support.
An elegantly choreographed, early computer-generated film from Engel's experiments at California Institute of the Arts.

Mobiles, Jules Engel, 1978, color, sound, 3 min, 16mm. Preserved by CVM with NFPF support.


Program curated by Center for Visual Music. All prints are from the Collection of CVM; many have been recently preserved by CVM. Engel films were preserved by CVM in association with NOMI Group. The 35mm R-1 Recreation film by William Moritz/Fischinger Archive was made possible with support from The Deutsches Filmmuseum. Thanks to the National Film Preservation Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Jules Engel Preservation Project at CVM, and to private donors whose support enabled the preservation of many of these films. Bute film screened courtesy Cecile Starr. CVM thanks Cinema Arts, Film Technology, Inc., Chace Productions, Cineric, Young-min Son and The Fischinger Trust. Images copyright Fischinger Trust, Greta Dockum, and the individual filmmakers and rightsholders. Program notes by CVM.



May 4, 2008: Australian Cinematheque, Gallery of Modern Art , Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

May 23, 2008: International House, Philadelphia, PA (US)

October 15, 2008: USC Dept. of Animation and Digital Arts (screening not open to public)

October 29, 2008: Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, New York

January 21, 2009: UCLA Film and Television Archive's Billy Wilder Theatre, at The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

April 19, 2009 (shoft version of the program): Tate Modern, London at Expanded Cinema Symposium

September 1, 2009: Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA



Reviewed by Danni Zuvela in "The Musicality of the Moving Image" in realtime onscreen, Brisbane: "... consciousness-expanding variety of psychedelia and its various cinematic and machinic iterations by generations of artists, filmmakers and scientists. The incredible Rare Classics program, curated by GoMA guest Cindy Keefer of the Center for Visual Music in LA, was a prime example of the kaleidoscopic approach to moving abstraction by numerous artists in the early-to-mid 20th century. The Rare Classics program abounded with priceless opportunities to witness the genre's often-referred-to-but-rarely-seen works, such as John Stehura's pioneering (1960-1965) computer animation, Cibernetik 5.3, Jud Yalkut's decidedly brown-acid Turn, Turn, Turn (1966) and some mind-blowing footage from early expanded cinema performances. Along with the unforgettable experience of witnessing the 'recreation' film of Oskar Fischinger's R-1 ein Formspiel (c 1926-1933), from his 1920s (!) multiple-projector performances … there was extraordinary conservation footage of Charles Dockum's 1952 MobilColor Performance at the Guggenheim Museum.


Note, this program is being reworked, several titles are changed/substituted. This represents the first, original playlist. Slightly modified versions of this show are available for booking.

  Program 2 - Essential Visual Music: New Visions

New work by contemporary Visual Music artists Bärbel Neubauer, Scott Draves, George Stadnik, Steven Woloshen, Samantha Krukowski, Robert Seidel, Bret Battey, Mondi, Jim Ellis, Scott Nyerges, Devon Damonte, Richard Baily, Vivek Patel and more. Curated by CVM. Formats: 16mm film and digital.


Devon Damonte, Opening (2008), color, sound, 2 min, US, 16mm. Handmade sound.
"A brand new crazy opening welcome film created especially for this show that includes direct animation pic and sound using Edouard Leon Scott de Martinville's recently-sounded phonautograph tracings from 1859" (DD)

Richard Baily/John Buchanan, xtacism (2005), color, sound, 5 min, US. Music: Richard Baily.
Xtacism was created with visual effects artist Richard Baily's software invention SPORE. "There is no middle, beginning, end, it is like the river, it just keeps on going..." (RB)

  Jim Ellis, Drift/Hypnogogy (2006), color, sound, 3:30, US. Music: Jim Ellis
Drift/Hypnogogy: The state between being awake and asleep. An individual may feel and appear to be fully awake, but has brain waves indicating that they are technically asleep. Also, the individual may be completely aware of their state, which enables lucid dreamers to enter the dream state consciously directly from the waking state. This has been proposed as an explanation of experiences such things as alien abduction, apparitions, or visions. In honor of Richard "Doc" Baily. (JE)

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.
Polar presents apocalyptic inner visions of the polar ice caps’ demise, using the Arctic as metaphor for a body out of balance. Fissures emerge. Mass transforms. The sea falls into itself. This silent film was created with handpainted 35mm film strips and digital video.

Samantha Krukowski, artreading v1 (2008), b/w & color, sound, 4:19, US.
artreading 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. (SK)

Scott Draves, The Firebird (2007). 4:15, US. Music: Kenji Williams (4x3 version)
An homage to Igor Stravinsky's 1910 Symphony, "The Firebird" is itself an excerpt from "Dreams in High Fidelity #2", rerendered at 2400x2400 resolution for full-dome projection. The graphics were created by the Electric Sheep, a cyborg mind consisting of 60,000 computers and people communicating with a genetic algorithm. Draves' software is open source and everyone running it participates in creating and controlling the animation enjoyed by all. (SD)

Emmanuel Lefrant, All Over (2001), 6:15, color, sound, France, 16mm
Whilst ALL OVER is a film made without "instrumentation" (like a camera), it also differs from direct films in that the film remains untouched by any tool (not even the hand). As in dripping, materials and color are spontaneously laid down on the film in semi-controlled gestures, which create a shower of colored dots. The soundtrack functions according to the same principle: the sound, in all its expressions, is formed using one single formal element. (EL)

Devon Damonte, A Sense of Wonder, color, silent, 2.5 mins, US, 16mm
A transformative exploration into the nature of wonder in our collective pop cultural consciousness. Made entirely by hand directly onto clear film leader. (DD)

Steve Woloshen, Shimmer Box Drive (2007). 3:45, Canada. Beta SP Video.
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.

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” you will see crushed things, completely abstracted … finding together and building up to something we all have seen before … Like our true wishes and desires they shape over time and get clearer … followed by the next longing … Innuendos, artifacts and the rough synchronisation add subtle emotions to the uncertain process that build the morbid tableaux of all possible futures …(RS)

Mondi, Kronos (2005), color, sound, 4:20 min, US. 16 x 9

Bret Battey, Mercurius (2007), color, sound, 6:09, U.K. 16 x 9
Mercurius expands algorithmic animation techniques I developed for cMatrix10 (2004) and Autarkeia Aggregatum (2005), while also being my first work in which the audio is constructed entirely using modulated-feedback techniques I have been developing since the late 1990’s. Volatile and unstable, Mercurius shifts rapidly between multitudes of seemingly conflicting states. One 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. (BB)

George Stadnik, Digital Lumia Composition 01 (2008), b/w & color, 8:28, U.S. 16 x 9. Music: Franklin Morris.

A collaboration with the composer, a pioneer in electronic music. Previously we worked together in the Avant Garde Festivals in New York in the 1970s. The visuals amplify the feelings borne by the music, and are computer simulations of optical phenomena . The juxtaposition of motion, color and music is intended to create a very personal experience for the viewer. (GS)

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

The films is a journey through planetlike worlds and objects of phantasy; there are no cuts, the spectator moves inside the space from one place to the next. (BM)


Images courtesy the individual artists and Kevin Baily. Firebird courtesy Scott Draves/Electric Sheep



May 30, 2008: International House, 3701 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA (US)

October 8, USC Dept. of Animation and Digital Arts, Los Angeles, CA (screening not open to public)

April 29, 2009: California Institute for the Arts (short version; classroom screening not open to public)

November 3 , 2009: A newly revised version - 11 films from this program, plus additional films, screened at REDCAT Theatre, Walt Disney Hall, Los Angeles. Program title: Lichtspiel.


  Back to CVM Events and Screenings

CVM Home


cvmaccess (at)