The Visual Sound Series - A/V Collaboration... Where Sight & Sound Inspirations Collide

Words by: Hannah Briley
Posted: 16/3/12 10:01

The Visual Sound Series - A/V Collaboration... Where Sight & Sound Inspirations CollideVJ’ing and electronic music have been naturally linked since both of their inceptions, their rudimentary techniques of sampling and synthesis placing them in a basic logical relationship with one another. Part DJ, VJ, director, sound designer, technician, projection mapper, engineer and musician – the artistic crossover behind audio visual artists and their work play an integral and often overlooked part in modern live electronic music.

Often hidden away from the stage or spotlight, it’s forgivable to underestimate the importance of the sense stimulating A/V shows and their creators that catapult our live show experiences to new dimensions. Pushing the limits of video art, cinema and digital art into a live music scenario can transcend a story or concept in ways beyond reach of the sound itself; enhancing ideas, emotions and encouraging ambiguous interpretation of the music and equally of the minds and feelings of the audience.

Evolving over time with technology, long gone are the simplistic days of a spotlight on a disco ball, or rotating traffic light effects in nightclubs. In today’s technologically advanced spectrum it is common place to find all manner of lasers, 3D mapping, original and sampled cinema footage, light manipulation and projections – all meticulously controlled and programmed to move alongside every miniscule beat and rhythm structure.

What immediately springs to mind when looking at examples of Audio Visual movements within electronic music has to be the Minus Contakt show that when launched in 2008 undoubtedly opened our eyes to the immense capabilities of incorporating visual light to a live music show. The concept behind Richie Hawtin’s Contakt tour, headed up by visually by Ali Demirel and using Quartz Composer Software advanced the level of communication between the music and visuals and equally, between the audience and performers. Turkish Ali Demirel studied nuclear engineering, physics and architecture, going on to experiment with video work, more often than not of minimalist and hypnotic nature. His most known project is naturally the Contakt Live Tour and the preceding direction of the documentary ‘Making Contact’ in 2010.

Making Contakt Documentary
(Richie Hawtin & Ali Demirel)

Previously however, he worked with Richie Hawtin and Plastikman, the story of which is quite remarkable and detailed in his recent ‘Kommentary’ video. As explained in an article and interview with Groove about Contakt's workings, Demirel used wireless technology to connect the performers (Richie Hawtin, Troy Pierce, Marc Houle, Magda, Hearthrob and Gaiser) on stage with his visuals and ‘the cube’, the interactions allowing integration between all elements of the show.

by Ali M. Demirel

Another noted contributor to large scale electronic music and it’s A/V competence is Simian Mobile Disco alongside Kate Moross and Alex Sushon, the two masterminds behind a number of their music videos and the ’10,000 Horse Can’t Be Wrong’ Live show. London based creative Kate Moross, known for her illustration, typography and music work synced her live video to perfection at the Mapping Festival last year, receiving rave reviews for her delicate and hypnotic A/V work and captivating the audience alongside SMD’s soundscapes.

10,000 Horses Can't Be Wrong
Live Visual Performance, directed by Kate Moross & Alex Sushon

Whilst the aforementioned examples are of huge proportion on bigger than big stages, smaller A/V shows are becoming more accessible and common thanks to the expanding minds of our electronic artists and their desire to bridge the gap between audio and visual. Live acts such as Monolake Play Video with his Live Surround Project, recently gracing London’s fabric with the ‘Ghosts In Surround’ tour and newer artists such as Ghostly International’s Tycho Play Video and Crosstown Rebel’s Deniz Kurtel with her LED installations. Kurtel, who in fact started as a visual artist debuted her Live set complete with audio triggered LED installation at Pacha in New York as part of the Rebel Rave US tour in 2010 Play Video.
As visual art naturally evolves and more electronic producers are able to collaborate and instigate their visual ideas, we reach a place in the artistic universe where sight and sound inspirations collide.

For the third episode in I Voice’s Visual Sound Series – we’ll be talking to live artist Kate Simko and intermedia artist and audio engineer Jeffrey Weeter. Kicking off Kate’s 2012 live tour at the Istanbul International Independent Film Festival in February, Kate and Jeffrey explain how they translate their ideas across artistic mediums to create a truly inspiring Audio Visual show.

Kate Simko & Jeffrey Weeter
At the Istanbul International Independent Film Festival

The Visual Sound Series - Episode 3 - A/V with Kate Simko & Jeffrey Weeter

Previous Episode:

Episode 2 - Jocie Cox


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