The standard history of Visual Music presents the modernist formalist principals of Oskar Fischinger, Walther Ruttmann and Hans Richter as catalyzing the practice of visual music, with reference back to the mechanical colour organ experiments of preceding centuries. But, as I will argue in this chapter, such an origin story gives visual music a deeply technical foundation, which pervades much creative thinking around it; visual music becomes about how sound is synced with the picture, and of direct conceptual links between image and sound.

Rejecting these traditional narratives around the birth of visual music, and seeking to engage wider artistic practices and forms of expression into conceptions of visual music, this chapter explores and posits that the painterly work of J.M.W. Turner became a progenitor of visual music when he ‘broke’ the canvas, and that visual musicians can use this key moment to build a new conceptual foundation of visual music upon the premise of affective expression, seeking to reflect an expanded concept of visual music which includes embodied visceral affect as a key principle.

In doing so, it becomes possible to engage both the human artist and the human participant of the audience, within a more open and expressive interpretations of visual music which operate beyond the duality of eye and ear. Transcending the technical to create an indivisible synthesis of the visual and the audible.