The "AVIA Translation" project was started in September, 2007, at
the Simon Bolivar University, Caracas by Emilio Mendoza, with
the assistance of graduate student Gabriel Peraza of the
Master's Degree Program in Composition. It was funded by the
Dean of Research and Development, USB, and it has been developed
in conjunction with the ZKM - Zentrum für Kunst und Medien,
Karlsruhe, Germany, in four research internships as GastKünstler
(Guest Artist) for the periods from 1. February to August, 2008,
(on sabbatical research leave from the USB); 2. Three weeks in
July, 2009 funded by the USB + ZKM; 3. Three months from
October to December, 2013, funded by the Venezuelan research
office FONACIT and by the Deutscher
Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD); and 4. One month from the
15th of May until the 11th of June, 2017. AVIA stands for
"Audio-Visual Integrated Arts" as a fair, balanced name where
both domains appear in equal importance. It was proposed as a
wide genre that includes specifically visual music. The AVIA
focuses on determining the possibilities of translation
of time structures between both domains, music and moving
Title of Research Project
Development and Perspectives of Visual Music: A historical outline
and analysis of translation possibilities of music to moving
visuals General Objective
Produce analytical and artistic knowledge on Visual Music Specific Objectives
To research bibliographical and
To establish the closest translation
possibilities of time-structures between both sensory worlds
In 1977 the author
composed several pieces in a set of jokes and conceptual works
by the name of La
Caja de Juguetes, (The Box of Toys), treating the
translation of musical ideas to other areas of expression such
as dance, visuals, narrative and poetry, noise, and other
concepts such as imagination, attention and perception, rituals,
being and life itself. In the same year, Mendoza produced an
interdisciplinary work within the audiovisual field called
(Whisper), a piece focused on the spatial composition for 6
synthesizers emitting white noise or for mixed choir of six
voices as producers of white noise, with a spatial placement
from left to right and mono. The author tried to perform it with
6 EMS synthesizers, the "Synthy" suitecase model, for its
premiere at the 33rd Hauptarbeitstagung of the Institut
für Neue Musik und Musikerziehung, 04/08/1979, Darmstadt,
Germany. The six synthesizers were provided by the English
company EMS, and the author leased six carousel slide-projectors
to provide a visual version of the score. Unable to train six
people to play the synthesizers live by producing white noise
with filters and volume handling, the concert was finally
performed by a group of friends performing the white noise with
vocals, mostly medicine students from his college dorm at the
Uni-Klinik in Düsseldorf. A sophisticated amplification was set
up through six individual channels, assembled and controlled by
the sound technician Michael Feller from the Robert Schumann
Institut, Düsseldorf. The slide projectors were also discarded
because it meant requiring six additional persons dedicated to
controlling them live, following the score, and also because of
the rental costs and transportation of the five screens for the
projection... a very expensive production for a
After this concert, the
piece was recorded in the sound studios of the Robert Schumann
Institute, conducted by Alfredo Rugeles, with the sound engineer
Michael Feller, four composers doing each voice together (Ramón
Ramos, Alfredo Marcano, Paco Estévez, Emilio Mendoza), and
recording all six voice tracks. With this audio, the author
concentrated again to run the A/V version of the piece with the
six carousel projectors that could automate the change and
dimmer of slides,
but did not work.
In 1979, the author composed the work Secretos
for wind sextet, with a structure exposed only through musical
color, in order to translate it to live visuals again, with the
same carousel slides equipment but with colors this time and not
with space concepts. Secretos was premiered at the
Kibbutz Shefayim, Israel, 1980, within the ISCM New World Music
Days Festival and the recording was later produced by the WDR
with the Düsseldorfer Bläßersextette, Alfredo Marcano,
conducting. With recording in hand, much time was consumed with
the projectors, painting slides and trying to set the visual
score, but with very frustrating results.
Compositional failures of space and color
The two pieces, Susurro
and Secretos proved to be complete failures in conveying
musical time-structures through space relationships (Susurro)
and through musical timbre (Secretos), although the
author thoroughly composed the works with these two elements in
mind. On listening to the recordings, there was no sense of
perceiving structures, no trace in memory, and therefore no
understanding of the music heard. That was one of the reasons
that moved him to insist on trying to convey the similar time
structure through visuals in real time: to help the music to be
comprehended through its simultaneous visual version. The title
Secretos specifically gives the sense concerning
this frutration where color does not function to convey complex
structures but just simple contrasts in music. The analysis
of Secretos was included at the end of the printed score
for the sake of revealing the unperceived work in it, until a
visual version could be achieved.
The author did not abandon the A/V
translation project completely, involving himself with the EMS
Spectron Video Synthesizer in the late seventies, but access to
this hardware was very limited and no progress was accomplished.
He also worked on different projects dealing with music, space
and visuals, (see Pasaje,
1976, Gaudeamus Prize), as well as with music for dance
productions over the years. In November, 2012, a new version of
Susurro was performed in the ISCM 2012 New World Music
Days Festival in Antwerp, by the Aquarius Choir, with the
inclusion of refinements in the “z” axis of the previous score.
New attempts since 2006 - AVIA Project
With this frustration kept
at the back of his mind for several years, the author began the
translation project again with a lecture within a science/art
exhibition (VI Salón
Arte-Ciencia, USB, 27-10-2006) on color-color
translation, and then registered the AVIA Project at the Dean of
Research and Development, USB in 2007. He realized how gradually
the importance and omnipresence of audiovisual media had taken
our lives and the strength of the trend of musical art to fold
into the visual domain definitely. This was accounted by the
technological development in this field (Internet, iPod, cell
phones), reaching the people in the streets and other social
A/V-phenomena as Napster, YouTube, iTunes, so he decided to use
his sabbatical in 2008 to study the Music to Visuals translation
thoroughly, reconnecting his previous frustrations in a second
attempt. The project was initially focused on color/color
translation due to the historical concentration on achieving
this link, but changed strategy following the original ideas
sketched 30 years ago: to compose the music to be translated
first, taking in mind the possibilities of perceptual
translation of only a selection of elements, removing other
non-transferable elements, and searching with musical
experiments to find which transposable elements and conditions
are effective perceptually for music-to-visual translation.
Within the audiovisual
idiom, an ancient tendency to render music to visuals has
re-emerged in the present decade as an attractive, expressive
form to artists: visual music. The term may be often employed to
name any audiovisual production that aims in a greater or lesser
extent with the intention, yet unfulfilled, to provide the
simultaneous perception of an organization of events in real
time through sounds and images. This motivation has generated a
constant challenge in Western culture, namely, to achieve the
connection between music and images and the close integration of
these two sensory domains in a similar time structure. It is
only in our digital today that this art form is reaching a state
of being in itself with significant potential and social
relevance because of the global audiovisual consumption of our
times, mainly through the screen of our cell phones. Evidence of
its placement in the arts today is accounted for by several
symposia such as Seeing
Sound 3 at Bath Spa University, UK, since 2009, the Visual
Music exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC,
in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
in 2005, with its accompanying publication (Brougher, K.,
Strick, J., Wiseman, A. and J. Zilczer. Visual Music:
Synaesthesia in Art and Music since 1900. Thames &
Hudson, 2005), many specialized publications and centers, and a
major yearly prize since 2007, the “Visual Music Award”. The on-going AVIA Research Project is
concentrated in finding the effective and direct interconnection
of the elements of both sensory domains and their perceptive
behavior, to convey the same time structure simultaneously. This
is not an end in itself and as such it would be counted as
another attempt to achieve the “synaesthetic dream”. However,
the final objective of the AVIA project in determining the
translatable elements between music and moving visuals is to
provide a fine-tuning mastery, a deeper knowledge of the
audiovisual behavior for creative artists. The research has
included a revision of the translation efforts and analysis of
the production throughout the whole of the Western art history
in music and in the visual arts, hinting at providing a
different reading to its development based on this perennial
pursue, specially at the turn of the twentieth century. More
research on the present production is necessary due to the
massive increase in the generation of audiovisual art in the
At this point,
it is relevant for the project to focus on the marked
tendency towards abstraction in film and video-art and the
immediate connection with the musical domain when it occurs,
as well as the need to research on the application of
procedures of music composition to the field of moving
visuals in time. Finally, the
project will be concentrated in the creation of music
compositions specifically made for AVIA translation.
A constant problem
encountered by many historical attempts in visualizing music has
been the desire to translate works of music which may have not
been created with this intention in mind, or by simply not
having a menu at hand in the process of creation of music, of
procedures which may or may not be translatable. Even
synaesthetic composers may fall into this problem, since their
synaesthetic logic may not be perceived nor understood in the
end results. Other risk that could be mentioned with the recent
developments in visual software, is that the complexity of
images produced may make the music run short of its
inter-relationship with the visual part and be forced to step
back to its previous role as “soundtrack” again. This is
not a problem for open audiovisual creation, but it does not
belong within the AVIA concept.
A historical deviation
in visual music has been the quest for the analogy of
musical/visual color, and the AVIA project, like many others,
fell in the beginning into this unrewarding track. The author
believes that the spatial and rhythmic compositions are
ideally suited for AVIA translation, rather than any
consideration of color/color translation, as it has been
historically attempted for centuries.
Why Visual Music?
Music is a powerful, massive and
simultaneous, expressive medium, but it does not exist
anywhere, it is an act in real time. It is formed in the
memory of the individual listener.
So there is a need to “objectivize”, to
see and grab music.
Doubling of power of emotional perceptive
One-way attempts: always translation of
music structures to “moving” visuals, because music’s
knowledge of abstract time handling.
relationship: Synchronic production of music in real
time Identical sound/visual-source location Sound & words
(re)generate images in our mind from memory bank
A/V relationships perceptually natural in
the domains of rhythm and space (dance!).
Outline of Visual
Developing of instruments, devices,
Entertainment – “circus complex”
Life with our screen, art with our
screen: G-glasses soon
Absence of social integration – only in
A challenge for
Western arts since late 16th century:
Arcimboldo - gravicembalo, 1595 Milano
Louis Bertrand Castel - ocular
Krüger, Kastner, Bishop,
Alexander Wallace Rimington - Color organ,
Thomas Wilfred - Clavilux, 1920-1
Daniel Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné - Piano
Theories of equivalence - Search
mainly for the note-color relationship
Analogy of words for musical timbre
(color) and visual color
Analogy of notes-colors (Newton,
Law of Octaves – planets singing (Hans
“…disorganized nature in the color-pitch
analogy…” (expo book) [pict]
Technological A/V innovations,
Manifestos & synaesthetic research at turn of 20th Cent.
Development of A/Vtechnology: Auguste
& Lois Lumiére patent the cinematographe, 1885.
T. A. Edinson, invents the light
First synaesthetic research publication
Futurist Bruno Corra. Manifesto of
visual music Cinema astratto–musica cromatica with
Arnaldo Ginna, 1912.
Rimington publishes Colour-Music The
art of mobile colour, in NY, 1911.
Synaesthetic composers in search for
Scriabin - Prometheus, Schönberg Farben (Klangfarbenmelodie),
Varèse, Gershwin, Messiaen, Ciurlionis, Bliss.
Synaesthetic composers & painters at
the beginning of 20th Century were in paralleland reciprocal
roads towards dissonance, non-rhythmic, non-linear melodic
music & abstract non-figurative painting.
Arnold Schönberg Vision, Die
glückliche Hand, 1910
George Gerschwin painting Schönberg
Still‐artists influenced by music in
search for abstraction
(1900--) Die Blaue Reiter,
Kandinsky, Ciurlionis, Schönberg, Picabia, Kupka,
Baranoff‐Rossiné, Russell, MacDonald‐Wright, Matiushin,
O'Keeffe, Richter, Valensi, Hirschfeld‐Mack (Bauhaus), Klee
Rhythmic influence to painting by jazz
themes, rhythmic enfasis
(1920--) Kupka, Dove
Music of Stravinsky, Bartók, Chávez,
Roldán, Orff, Loius Amstrong, Scott Joplin
Harmonic visual rendering
Abstract photography, Animation,
Entertainment & Film
(1920--) Stieglitz, Bruguière, Wilfred
(1940--) Richter, Eggelin, Ruttmann,
Fischinger, Disney, Lye, Hirsch, Whitney brothers,
Brakhage, Belson, MacLaren, Greenewalt, Klein, László, Bentham
Influence of World Fairs & Son et
Lumière (Paris 1937, Brussels 1958)
"Circus Complex" in Visual Music Film: Disney’s Fantasia 1940 ,
Changes in the graphic representation
(1950---) Brown, Cage, Logothetis,
Feldman, Wolf, Kagel, Stockhausen
Feldman’s, A Year From Monday, 1950
Logothetis’s Agglomeration, 1960
Sound space, architecture,
installations, visual arts
Xenakis, Soto, June Paik, Rosalie,
Yannis Xenakis - Polytope de Cluny,
Alejandro Otero - Coloritmos, 1955
Jesús Soto - Penetrables y Escultura en
The person moving into the sculptures is
the one producing the movement and the sounds
Nam June Paik - TV-Cello, 1971,
Charlotte Moorman with cello and bra of tv monitors
Rosalie - Helios, 2008 (ZKM)
Music by Ludger Brümmer, Rosalie - Chroma Lux,
Jennifer Steinkamp Swell, 1995
Artistic Movements & Psychedelia
(1960---) Cosmic cinema, Vortex,
Psychedelia, light shows, artificially-induced synaesthesia by
Mix of art, entertainment, painting,
cinema, music, philosophy, hippie aesthetics
Concentration on music (rock), and through
LSD on visual effects
Joshua’s Light Show & Franz Zappa,
Development of Video‐clip, Music &
(1964---) Change from “musical” to
visual-media promotion of pop music through video-clips &
cinema from the Beatles in the Sixties.
Music promo-films: Hard Day’s Night,
Music promo-clip: Paperback Writer,
Live world recording: All your need is
Love (400M viewers, 1967)
Magical Mystery Tour, 1967, I am the
Walrus, Flying, Blue Jay Way (MMT)
Yellow Submarine,1968 Eleonor Rigby
Stanley Kubrik, 2001: Space Odyssey,
Michelangelo Antonioni, Zabriskie
Ron Fricke, Baraka, 1992
End of “blind-music era”
Establishment of music consumption linked
with visuals, following Beatles promos, established by
Music Television MTV (1981)
Evolution of digital A/V technology and
increase of transmission speed through the internet: mp3
revolution, 197 2. On-line music – Napster, 200 3. iTunes,
iPod, 201 4.Video files = YouTube revolution, 2005 . iPad,
smart mobile phones – the search for the “proper” screen…
Music visualizers: iTunes, Mmp, live
Sound as signal language but not music nor
speech: Wall‐E, 2008
Visual Music Today
High digital technology
development for visuals
Music back as
sound-track for film?
A/V consumption is
socially established, but limited for VM
Live A/V performance
with DJ loop aesthetics , non formal extended time, (see
Ryo Ikeshiro “audiovisualization”)
Data rendering for
Visuals and Music & Live manipulation
Chladni-- Hans Jenny --Lewis Sykes)
(Pythagorian harmonic series u.a.?)
development OR rhythmic development (see David MacDonald
vs. Jean Piché)
Abstract vs. Figurative
(contrary to trend in Electronic music)
Stagnant language of
circling, L to R moving bands, dots, masses, sperms
Mendoza, Emilio. 'Musical/Visual Color I:
Music Composition for visual translation.' Computer Art
Congress [CAC.2] Proceedings of the 2nd International
Congress. Paris: Europia Productions, 2008, 234 – 235.
of the IASPM in Kassel, Germany, 26-30 of June, 2017.
Sound 3 Symposium 2013, Bath Spa University on the
23-24th November 2013. Visual Music Research Group, School of
Music and Performing Arts, Bath Spa University, Newton Park,
1st International Conference of the Hellenic Film
Academy, Cacoyannis Foundation, Athens, Greece,
Lecture: “Analysis of Music-Visual Relationships for
Audiovisual Integrated Art Fundamentals.”
International Seminar on Music
International Centre for Composers (VICC), Visby,
Gotland, Sweden. 26/08/2010.
Lecture: “Development of Visual Music and its present state in
the Audiovisual World”.
XVII Foro de Compositores del Caribe,
Universidad de Puerto Rico, within the II Festival
Internacional de las Humanidades, 21-27/03/2010. Lecture:
“Música Visual: Un Nuevo Arte para el Sueño
VII Salón de Arte y Ciencia, Ciclo de Conferencias.
Departamento de Arquitectura, Biblioteca de la Universidad
Simón Bolívar, Caracas, 26/11/2009.
Lecture: “Música Visual: Un Nuevo Arte para el Sueño
XII Congreso Internacional de Estética
“Vértices y aristas del arte contemporáneo.” Universidad
Nacional de Mar del Plata, Fundación
Destellos, Mar del Plata, Argentina, 22-24/10/2009.
Lecture: “Introducción a los Conceptos de “Traslación Avia” en
la Música Visual”.
2nd International Symposium on Systems
Research in the Arts and Humanities: “On Interaction/
Interactivity in Music, Design, Visual and Performing Arts,”
International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems
Research and Cybernetics, Baden-Baden, Germany, 24–30/07/2008.
Lecture: “Fundamentals of Music Composition for AVIA
Seminar on Music Composition, Visby
International Centre for Composers (VICC), Gotland, Sweden,
02–14/06/2008. Seminar: “Digital Translation between Musical
and Visual Color.”
CAC.2 Computer Art Congress 2008,
Tecnológico de Monterrey, Ciudad de México and Toluca, México,
Lecture: “Musical/Visual Color I: Music Composition for visual
Lecture-Screening: “Música Visual:
El Nuevo Arte Sinestésico.” UNEARTE-Sartenejas, Caracas,
Lecture-Screening: “Música Visual: El
Nuevo Arte Sinestésico.” Celarg, Caracas, 21/05/2009.
Lecture-Screening: “Música Visual: El
Nuevo Arte Sinestésico.” Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas,
Lecture: “Color musical - visual.”
Serie de Conferencias “VI Salón Arte-Ciencia,” Sala de
Reuniones, Biblioteca, Dirección de Cultura, USB, 27/10/2006.
Performances on the project’s theme
Presentation of the video Sin-Cadenas.tube
in the V Simposio Internacional SIAC - ESCINETV, Reflexión
Sobre Animación Cinematográfica, Auditorio, Cámara de Comercio
de Caracas, 10/09/2016.
Performance of the spatial music work Susurro
II, in the ISCM Festival World New Music Days by the Aquarius
choir, Mark de Smet, conductor, in the DeSingel complex,
Antwerp, Belgium, 04/11/2012.
Presentation of the video Aloha
Tacoa, by Benno Richard Mauler and Emilio Mendoza, in
the “SADLA fest 2011 Festival de Cortometraje,” San Antonio de
Los Altos, Plaza Central, Complejo Cultural y Deportivo Los
Performance in trio, “Los
Sonidos de las Piedras”, within the opening of the art
exhibition “Registros Intuitivos” of Carola Bravo, Galería
Fernando Zubillaga, Centro de Arte Los Galpones, Caracas,
31/07/2011, using the art object as a score to improvise.
Performance by the autor of the
concert-installation work Sin-Cadenas.tube
in the World New Music Days Festival of the ISCM at Penrith,
Aloha Tacoa. (musical video-art). “XVII
Foro de Compositores del Caribe,” Sala Beckett, San Juan de
Puerto Rico, within the “II Festival Internacional de las
Humanidades,” Universidad de Puerto Rico, Ríos Piedras,
Aloha Tacoa (musical videoart). “1er
Festival de Cine de Los Altos Mirandinos,” Teatro Alcaldía del
Municipio Los Salias, San Antonio de los Altos, 17, 18,
Aussät, K. (1986). Paul Klee und die Musik. hrsg. von
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Birren, F. (1987). Principles of Color.
Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Bosseur, J-Y. (1993). Sound
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Boulton, A. (1994). Alejandro Otero. Caracas:
O. Ascanio Editores.
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K., Mattis, O., Strick, J., Wiseman, A. and J.
Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music since 1900.
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Cytowic, R. E. (2002). Synesthesia:
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Evans, B. (2005). “Foundations of a visual music.” Computer Music Journal 29
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Feineman, N. and S. Reiss (2000). Thirty Frames Per Second:
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