Optronica Lab at BFI Southbank proudly presents a specially commissioned new work by Glasgow based audiovisual artist Simon Richardson – aka Vitascope – featuring the music of his down-tempo electronica act Hannas Barber.

Since 1995, Richardson’s trio have been developing digital/analogue improvisation techniques to explore music structures within “electronica”.  They’ve been released on Dalriada and their own Instant Action Object imprint, and have also created several works for Addictive TV for their Mixmasters television and DVD project.

VJing as Vitascope , Richardson has worked with many artists including Andrew Weatherall and Derrick May.  On the international stage he’s played at art festivals such as FILE in Sao Paulo, Brazil (2003) and on the trans-Siberian VJ tour Kulturedrang Nach Osten (2002).  His work uses hand-made 16mm film loops, where the colour dynamism of sound is revealed through elemental movement of line, shape and pattern within a suggested 3-dimensional space.

Vitascope ‘s new Optronica performance will be “expanded” VJing, where he improvises both sound and vision simultaneously; mixing four audio/visual sources in real-time with an AV mixer, using each source as a building block for an immersive sound-space.  Dynamically welding the ambient sounds of Hannas Barber with the heightened abstract movements of film and audiovisual Flash loops, Vitascope builds an hypnotic, ambient and unique audiovisual performance.


– What attracts you to working in the live audiovisual realm?  Can you say a little bit about your background and how it lead you to this point?

Combining sound and image over time explores the qualities of synaesthesia formed in the dynamic weld between the two senses…a four dimentional light sculpture.

– Can you tell us a bit more about your performance at Optronica… Do you use any modified technology or software in your set-up? What do you think of the advances of AV technology in the last decade and how has it impacted on your art ?

My performance for Optronica will fuse 16mm loop film improv with digital AudioVisual cutups to make an extended ambient sound/land scape. An exploration of the potential for an “expanded” VJ, overlaid with further developments into figuration using Flash digital animations. I hand make 16mm loop films inspired by artists such as Harry Smith, Len Lye, Oscar Fischenger and Norman Mclaren, who all explored the colour dynamism of sound. I worked in nightclubs from 1994 – 2002 using three projectors and hundreds of film loops to create live visual reactions to the set the DJ played. In 1998 I was commissioned to make the film “Loophole”, using digital editing I was able to compose a new sound track with visual aspect simultaneously. The film was screened at The Glasgow Film Theatre and at The European Media Arts Festival 1999. This led to commissions for three series of Mixmasters, which have been broadcast nationally and screened internationally. Since completing an Msc in electronic imaging from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (2001) I have been working on how to fuse the capabilities of digital reproduction and audio control with the instantness of the older, silent technology of 16mm loops. For this performance I will use for the first time a new mixer that will allow me to combine all these elements. So technology for me is playing a big roll in how the form of VJing advances.

– Why do you think it’s important for festivals like Optronica to happen?

I think an event like Optronica is great for showcasing the advances being made in this field, in fact along with many other media festivals it is bringing into being a new field entirely, populated with composites of performers, film-makers, computer artists and sound artists in any number of differing combinations. I feel an AV set-up could eventually become an instrument in the same way as a guitar or saxophone. As a guitar is a composite of many types of guitar from down the ages, are we setting off in pursuit of the discovery of a new instrument that allows us to express in sound and vision simultaneously?