One of my most enduring research as been Visual Music. It took me a while to arrive at this term, which seems perfect for my interests, and has a long history. I’m interested in audiovisual work, but specifically where music (or musical ideas) and/or sound are the driving force, and this term works perfectly.

I first used it to describe my own sound-led multimedia works (most of them in the video section of this site), but have become more and more interested in the history of the term – which dates back centuries – and the ideas and practices that have accumulated around it. With that in mind, I have written a number of book chapters and articles on the topic. The most recent is called ‘Cross Modal-Theories of Sound and Image’, and appears in Live Visuals: History, Theory and Practice, ed. Steve Gibson et. al, published by Routledge. I also edited issue 15.4 of Canadian journal eContact! specifically on this theme (using the term vidéomusique, which overlaps in terms of meaning and has some currency there). There are some great contributions from some leading artists and theoreticians in here.

I have written a paper for Organised Sound outlining some more specific ideas around audiovisual noise and silence, and attempting to find parallels between the phenomenology of visual music works and that of electroacoustic and acousmatic music, through the theories of Schaeffer and Husserl.

I have made a particular study of early animator Oscar Fischinger. Perhaps best known for a film he washed his hands of (Disney’s Fantasia), Fischinger made over 50 films and many paintings and other works mostly between the 1930s and 1960s, which constitute one the most substantial bodies of Visual Music practice. With the help of a fellowship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, I undertook a two-year study of rare Fischinger materials housed by the Centre for Visual Music in LA, contributing to the Fischinger retrospective which opened Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam in 2012, and two chapters to the book Oskar Fischinger: 1900-1967: Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction., ed. Cindy Keefer and Jaap Guldemond, Thames and Hudson

I have made presentations on this topic at many conferences worldwide. Perhaps most notable are the three Unverstanding Visual Music conferences in Montréal (2011), Buenos Aires (2013) and Brasilia (2015) – I presented at all three, in Braslia and Keynote Speaker – and the first Center for Visual Music Symposium at Sonoma, California in 2018. I also run a symposium on Visual Music myself, Seeing Sound, which has become the longest-running series on this topic still running.