Center for Visual Music Symposium 2018 Call for Papers

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CVM Symposium 2018: Exploring and Preserving Visual Music
in association with Sonoma State University

Center for Visual Music (CVM) is pleased to announce its call for paper submissions for a Symposium on Visual Music, August 14-16, 2018, in association with Sonoma State University.

The symposium will explore the theories, histories, and practices of visual music. It features two days of keynote talks and presentations from international scholars, artists, curators and students, plus a final half day with a special session and a roundtable workshop on August 16. A series of screenings occur throughout, featuring historic and contemporary visual music works. Set in Sonoma County’s wine country, the symposium also features several special events, including an opening reception the evening of August 13. CFP Deadline is March 23.

What is Visual Music?

“We need a new kinetic, visual art form - one that unites sound, color and form.”  Mary Ellen Bute, 1936

The history of visual music on film extends over one hundred years, with a corresponding bibliography stretching back to Aristotle and Pythagoras. Both historical and contemporary artworks have examined the varied relationships of image and sound, and as the field continues to expand, definitions continue to evolve.

Film historian William Moritz wrote of “A music for the eye comparable to the effects of sound for the ear.”  He wrote about artists’ desires to create [with colored light and film]….”a moving abstract image as fluid and harmonic as auditory music.”  He asked us to contemplate,“What are the visual equivalents of melody, harmony, rhythm and counterpoint?”  Thus, one definition of Visual Music is that of a time-based visual structure that is similar to the structure of a kind or style of music.  Other definitions include a translation of image to sound, or a music visualization that incorporates the original syntax in the new visual composition. Visual music is interdisciplinary and has affinities with other forms of intermedia.

Visual Music is of interest to scholars, students and practitioners in the fields of film/video/digital media, cinema studies and film history, animation, art, music theory and composition, and dance, among others. Its prominent pioneers such as Oskar Fischinger and Walther Ruttmann, are of interest to those working in German studies. The symposium provides a forum to share research, examine the history of visual music as it relates to other arts, and encourage discussion of the future of our field through preservation and education. We will introduce new audiences, particularly students, to visual music through the presentations, special sessions and screenings of films from CVM’s archive.  

We invite papers exploring the histories and theories of Visual Music, as well as analysis of significant work. Papers are welcome from varied disciplines, though we are less interested in exploring the much-examined topic of synthesthesia.  

Deadline for submissions: March 23, 2017

Possible topics include but are not limited to:
Visual Music and other arts
Visual Music and abstraction
Historic examples and pioneers of visual music
Definitions of Visual Music, varied relationships of image and sound
Issues in preservation and access/distribution of visual music
Technical histories of color organs, hand-drawn sound or specific production practices
Sonification and music visualization
Musical approaches, practices and technologies
Contemporary practices in experimental animation and visual music
Visual Music, live cinema and VJs
Visual Music education and training
Visual Music’s influence on VFX, commercials, music videos, video games and VR
Eastern musical and religious influences on visual music films
Installations, performances and exhibitions – historical and/or contemporary


Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words plus a short biography of c. 100 words, and a 3-5 item bibliography by March 23, 2017.

Submit to Center for Visual Music (CVM): cvmaccess (at) gmail.comPLEASE INCLUDE “CFP CVM 2018” in the subject line of your email.

Please do not submit moving image files, though links are acceptable if they support your presentation. Currently we are not accepting submissions of film/digital moving image works for the screenings.

For further information please contact CVM. We look forward to seeing you in Sonoma County this summer!

Review Committee

Cindy Keefer, Curator/Archivist and Director, Center for Visual Music, Los Angeles.

David James, Ph.D. Professor, Cinema & Media Studies, University of Southern California.

Heike Sperling, Ph.D. Professor, Digital Visual Media/Visual Music, Institute for Music and Media, Robert Schumann Music Academy, Duesseldorf. Chair, Motion Design graduate program, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg.

Margaret Schedel, Composer. Associate Professor of Music, Co-Director of Computer Music, and Director of cDACT, the Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture and Technology at Stony Brook University, New York.

Center for Visual Music (CVM) is an archive devoted to visual music, experimental animation and abstract media. CVM's archives house the world's largest collection of resources on Visual Music. The collections include film/video/digital media and related papers, books, monographs, artwork, animation process materials, documentation, photography, equipment and artifacts. CVM owns the films, papers, and many animation drawings by Oskar Fischinger, plus the original research collection of animation historian William Moritz.

Film preservation is a core part of CVM’s mission. CVM’s films, programs, and presentations are regularly featured at museum exhibitions, cinematheques, universities, symposia and archives worldwide, most recently at the Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Hirshhorn Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, LACMA, British Film Institute, Harvard Film Archive, Princeton University, Oxford University and Trinity College, among others worldwide. CVM recently co-published a new Oskar Fischinger monograph, Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction.


Friday, March 23, 2018 (All day)

Exhibition dates: 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 (All day) to Thursday, August 16, 2018 (All day)

Contact Email: 

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Friday, March 23, 2018 (All day)

Exhibition dates: 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 (All day) to Thursday, August 16, 2018 (All day)