What is intended today as Audiovisual Art? Which is the result of an artistic journey that started from the avant-guarde artistic movements of the last centuries and the pioneering experiments of artists, video makers and musicians working with analog and electronic technologies like lights, paintings, cinema, architecture, video, contemporary and classical music and sound? And, what is remaining today of the techno – enthusiasm of the beginning of the XXI century, coming from the synthetic integration between audio and video components through the use of a new powerful generation of software and hardware technologies?
In the last twenty years, Audiovisual Art has become a prolific field for artistic experimentation, helped by the fast technological development (following the lines of proprietary software markets on one side and the fertile open source and peer to peer software and hardware communities on the other side), but also a playable and participative territory, able to emotively involve the audience (and the markets of mass culture events) but also able to drive the users in a path of discovery and fruition of physical spaces, architectural settings and imaginary sensory worlds. Audiovisual Art is today an hybrid discipline, mixing its own languages with those of other artistic fields (performative and not), without forgetting the artistic experiences of the last century.
Real time audio samplings, generative graphic animation codes, audio synthesis processes, video mixing skills, 3d modelling audio reactive softwares, djing and vjing techniques, live cinema experiments, interactive immersive enviroments, are just few media used by artists and designers to gain a pure synesthetic integration between sound and visuals.
Looking at the tradition of live cinema and expanded cinema performances, we can find many references with contemporary audio visual projects: from Walter Ruttman cello live performances during his screening on music composed by Max Butting to Oskar Fischinger contribution to Laszlo-Moholy Nagy’s Colour Organ European tour, from Jordan Belson / Henry Jacobs Vortex Concerts at Morssison Panetarium in San Francisco to the score of Poème Electronique at Philips Pavillon composed by Xenakis and Varese, from the Movie Drom of Stan Van Der Beek to the Exploding Plastic Inevitable happening by Andy Warhol. Contemporary live media and live cinema performances, in which audio and video elements are strongly integrated through the use of powerful softwares and real-time synchro technologies on one side and a coming back to physical objects, analog instruments and cinema tecniques on the other side, emotionally expand artistic languages and sensory elements like immersion, synesthesia and expanded perception.
The capacity to create new audiovisual architectures in which the public is dragged into it as an active part of the performance. Artists like Granular Synthesis, Roiji Ikeda, Carsten Nicolai, Semiconductors, Rechenzentrum, Skoltz Kolgen, Julien Maire, Bruce Mc Clure, Metamkine, Bas van Koolwijk, Hotel Modern, Otolab are part of the Audiovisual Art tradition, not only a passing trend but the true point of origin for a future research which is always deeper and more refined.
Without forgetting the branches of D/VJing, able to conciliate the needs of dance and fun with that of audiovisual project synchrony – starting from the cinematic experiences of video footage and cut-up (remember the tradition of the mid of the Nineties, from ColdCut to Hextatic, from Light Surgeon to Rechenzentrum themselves, coming from the club scene experiences in the big cultural European cities of the Nineties like London and Berlin) and arriving to contemporary real-time club audio-visualizations created with generative real time software like VVVV – is on the border between art and science that I have been personally finding an interesting path of research on languages, aesthetics and technologies that seem to guarantee a brilliant future to Audiovisual Art for the upcoming years.
Artists able to govern electronic and physical phenomena, made to guarantee a complete materialization of optical images, nano visualizations, ephemeral sounds, magnetic lights in the sensory space surrounding us. Artists that seems scientists landed to live media performances like Evelina Domnitch and Dmitri Gelfand, sound artists creating immersive interactive environments exploring the power of electromagnetic sound fields like Edvin Van Der Heide and Christina Kubisch, video makers looking at the energetic world in which we are immersed like Thorsten Fleisch and Semiconductors, directors replying the experiences of direct cinema by Len Lye and McLaren like Jurgen Reble and Joost Rekveld, and finally audio visual performers looking at the physical limits of our perceptive brain apparatus under a growing, intense and stressing flicker stimuli, like experienced by musician Tony Conrad in 1966 with his masterpiece The Flicker, like Kurt Hentschlager. An a past interview made for Digicult, Kurt Hentsschlager told me: “I would suggest you a book, “A brief tour of human consciousness” by V.S. Ramachandran, Pi Press. This one looks at how the brain can create illusions and delusions, synesthesia and its relation to metaphor and art, by analyzing and locating processes in the brain by studying defects in the perception of neurological patients”.
Artisti capaci di governare fenomeni elettronici e fisici, realizzati per garantire una completa materializzazione di immagini ottiche, nano visualizzazioni, suoni effimeri, luci magnetiche nello spazio sensoriale che ci circonda. Artisti che sembrano scienziati approdati a live media performance come Evelina Domnitch e Dmitri Gelfand, artisti del suono che creano ambienti interattivi immersivi che esplorano il potere dei campi sonori elettromagnetici come Edvin Van Der Heide e Christina Kubisch, videomaker che guardano al mondo energetico in cui siamo immersi come Thorsten Fleisch e Semiconductors, registi che replicano le esperienze del cinema diretto di Len Lye e McLaren come Jurgen Reble e Joost Rekveld, e infine performer audiovisivi che guardano ai limiti fisici del nostro apparato percettivo cerebrale sotto stimoli flicker crescenti, intensi e stressanti, come sperimentato dal musicista Tony Conrad nel 1966 con il suo capolavoro The Flicker, come Kurt Hentschlager. In una precedente intervista fatta per Digicult, Kurt Hentsschlager mi ha detto: “Ti suggerirei un libro, “A brief tour of human awareness” di V.S. Ramachandran, Pi Press. Questo esamina come il cervello può creare illusioni e delusioni, sinestesia e la sua relazione con la metafora e l’arte, analizzando e localizzando i processi nel cervello studiando i difetti nella percezione dei pazienti neurologici”.