The elusiveness of Audiovisual Arts


To begin with audiovisual art is the exploration of kinetic abstract art and music or sound set in relation to each other. The exploration in audiovisual arts is not new, already back in the 1970’s guys like Walter Giers made a name of himself producing intriguing audiovisual installations often with impressive circuitry and sequencing. Today, this is still a fairly vibrant scene, although often contained and leaning to the more experimental and underground side of the mainstream music and arts scene. A good example of this is Evgeniy Vashchenko who is now working closely with a Dutch audiovisual arts collective. Unfolding Space is a strong example on how ambient soundscapes interacts with the “mirrors” mounted on the walls. Since 2011 he runs the label FF’Space, which is dedicated to algorithmic and abstract approaches in the arts of sounds, visuals, design and micro-software development. Evgeniy performs and develops algorithmic tools, installations, sounds, visuals and graphics worldwide under the alias V4W.ENKO.

In the book Art and the Senses one can learn that Fortunato Depero and Luigi Russolo were designing art machines already back in 1915 to create a multisensory experience of sound, movement and colour.

In the 1970s Harry Bertoia created sound sculptures of objects to have a multisensory effect, exploring the relationships between the sound, the initiating event and the material properties of the objects. In an example with overt musical connections, The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics cites musician Brian Williams (aka Lustmord) as someone whose practise crosses audiovisual art and mainstream media, where his work is “not traditionally ‘musical'” and has “clearly visual aspects”

These days it’s amazing just how much can be done with a single laptop in terms of graphical processing power, and visual artists have been able to warp 3D projections onto screens limited only by imagination. We are no longer restricted by the square form of the screen as video mapping has allowed us to wrap the image around objects with depth, imbuing old buildings with a living, breathing rhythm in time with the music. The audience can be transported by a visual show to incredible settings, both more real and more fantastic.

Another contemporary contributor to the field of audiovisual art is Raven Kwok who together with Karma Fields has produced the installation The Hex featured below.

Inspired by the societal influences volcanoes have on our lives, artist Joanie Lemercier created a project called “EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL”. Joanie hand draws the wire-frame scenery to a wall, mimicking the topography of the respective volcanic landscapes. Stereoscopy and shading are used as the key elements which manipulate the audience’s perception of the image before them. The shadows created by the light projections give the illusion of depth within the ridges and points, even distance between mountains, aided by the fluid grid-lines and computer software. The artist himself describes this process as “modifying the perception of things…it is almost like modifying reality”. Lemercier “[plays] around with visual perception [to] trick the senses using optical illusions”, allowing the naturally flat surface and image to take on a three-dimensional forms.

Noemi Schipfer & Takami Nakamotoo explore though this unique project the relationship between space and time, accelerations, contractions, shifts and metamorphosis. This installation aimed at establishing a physical connection between the virtual space and the real space, blurring the limits and submerging the audience into a short detachment from reality.

Lights generate abstract spaces while sounds define the echoes of virtual spaces. DAYDREAM is an invitation to contemplation. According the creators the installation is a a deeply immersive experience for the viewer, as the frontality of the installation leads the visitors to a passive position.

The search for Niburu is a recent work (2016). With dark hammering beats and strange noises this installations marks the essence of audiovisual arts. Nibiru – ‘Planet of crossing’- the ninth planet that passes our solar system ones in a 3000 years. During the performance De Groot intends to track the trace and shape of Nibiru with a simple, unstable human handmade apparatus made of scratch materials. Nibiru is an analogue and mechanical performative installation wherein simple rhythmical body movements activates a squeaky pendulum drawing machine, that on its turn creates complex mathematical images. Noises of friction are amplified and sound patterns are created by light sensitive speakers that scan the changing projected geometric line image. Mariska de Groot’s work often has a reference to media inventions from the past, with which she aims to excite a multi-sensorial and phenomenological experiences in light, sound, movement and space.

Mark IJzerman’s Presque Vu is a piece in which the visuals react to its sonic counterpart. With music created using field recordings and resonances recorded while traveling and stored on cassette tapes, visuals will be influenced, slowly uncovering itself like old 16mm film burning in reverse. Live-set consisting of a performance with modular synth, 2 4-track tape-recorders, a bunch of endless cassettes, homemade spring reverbs, a modded Space Echo and reactive visuals.

Finally we need to cover Amon Tobin. Amon Tobin’s ISAM pretty much blew away the previous benchmark for projection mapping shows when it came out. It was the definitive live, immersive, audio-visual sensory experience. ISAM 2.0 was like the greatest of all sequels, bigger, louder and more spectacular than ever before.  The perfect combination of sound and visuals into an artistic whole.