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  • Writer's pictureDegen Mag

Motion Graphics History - Visual Music

Visual Music can be found as early as the 18th century. An abstract form of art, Visual Music is at the cross section of animation and music, working together in tandem to create an ~experience~ for viewers. It has been considered avant garde and experimental in nature. It was peak cinema, baby. It’s the birthplace of motion graphics as we know it today.  

As we talked about in my last piece, motion graphics has also always been a thing. As technology evolved, artists have been figuring out a way to evolve their practice of abstract moving audio-visual art. Color organs were invented over and over again. (The first recorded color organ was recorded in 1590 and most recently documented in 2000.) Father Louis Bertrand Castel built this big ole thing called an Ocular Harpsichord in 1730. It was a 6 foot monster with 60 windows of different glass panes and had an intricate pulley system to reveal colors. This was insane! People loved it! It used freaking CANDLES!!

The story gets more like Charlie’s conspiracy wall in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as time goes on and technology evolves. By the 1920s, there were artists in the US and Germany creating color organs and experiences for audiences. It was a big thing!

But let’s skip ahead a bit.

Hand painted films were another big part of visual music. Mary Hallock-Greenwalt produced some of the earliest known hand painted films that were meant to be visualizers for music as we know it today. Could you imagine Bach ever going so hard? While these films aren’t available to the public (or I can’t find them at least), I can honestly say in good conscience that they were certified bangers. The woman was a badass. 

At the same time, we have Walther Ruttmann’s Lichtspiel: Opus 1, the first publicly screened abstract film. He used oil paints and glass plates to do all of it. Talk about a labor of love. The film clocks in at a whopping 12 minutes. 

And this is where I leave you, dear reader, before we hop into some title sequences. We’ll pick back up again soon!

Abstract motion graphics is cool, friends.

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