Project brief


It is common in audio visual contexts such as film and theatre to work within the disciplinary silos of the people involved. This is logical as each area of activity has its own  cultures of doing based on the time it takes to develop content, the tools involved, the level of physical and technical skill required of its practitioners and the historical evolution of each discipline across varied and shifting cultural contexts, economic pressures and pedagogical methods.

The consequences of creating multimedia works (such as film) with diverse artisans working to the best of their abilities are conspicuous in mainstream media: watch this music video and note the extreme disconnect between the sound of the music and the contexts in which performers are supposedly singing: (skip the ad)

Importantly the sound in this example is disconnected from almost everything you see on the screen. Apart from the slyly “Asian” sounding introductory theme and the voices which are reassuringly familiar and may even be the voices of the people you see in the video, they essentially have very little to say to one another. With musicians working as musicians and film makers working as film makers, and popstars posing as actors/dancers/models we end up with music and video but we don’t get audiovision.

What would happen then if we were to cease thinking about sound as sound and image as image and devise work that was genuinely audiovisual? How would we dissolve the disciplinary boundaries of those involved and what would we gain, expressively, aesthetically and conceptually by learning to talk and act as an audiovisual ensemble?

Join this project to explore further…

Aims and objectives

  • This project aims to push its participants to seriously explore audiovision
  • We aim to examine and blur boundaries between traditions of sound and image production in the context of live performance and improvisation
  • We will aim to explore real-time and off-line generation of audio visual materials in order to better understand audiovision
  • We will examine the potential of improvisation and live performance to help us understand more about  an integrated, audiovisual approach to media
  • The project aims to nurture a context for experimentation and exploration, things will tried and may not work, this will be part of the process.
  • The project offers opportunities to examine and explore contemporary approaches to audiovisual systems and to learn about the appropriateness of these systems for a range of media-related activity from composing, performance, editing, mixing, montage etc…
  • To produce a series of studies and explorations of audiovision and to develop a significant piece of original work by the end of the project
  • To critically examine audiovision in contemporary and historical contexts

Learning outcomes

Participants will

  • learn to collaborate creatively as part of a group of sound designers, composers, scientists, visual artists, software creators and web designers
  • learn to perform as an ensemble with visual and sonic materials
  • learn to develop your own set of performance / audio visual materials and integrate these with others
  • learn about contemporary and historical approaches and attitudes to audiovision
  • learn about issues relating to live performance by giving live performances
  • learn to produce professional-level documentation of your work, suitable for presentation beyond the University, perhaps suitable for your own showreel
  • learn to develop ways to think critically about audiovisual relationships beyond this experimental project and consider how these ideas/approaches might apply across a range of contemporary media

Submission suggestions and presentation

Submission 1

This will be carefully organised and consist of a series of audiovisual ‘studies’ designed by each member of the group and performed by a subsection of that group. Whilst it is the responsibility of the group to decide what these might be and their form the following suggestions can be considered:

Develop 6, 40 second audio-visual studies that link light and sound.

  • Document them and upload them to vimeo in high resolution
  • Embed the vimeo links in your submission1 category with a detailed commentary about the concept behind the study and the technical methods used to create the performance (up to 600 words per video), plus images, screen shots, sound examples.


Design and build 6 audiovisual instruments. These should be capable of linking sound and light in some way. They could be computer-speaker/projector based but don’t have to be. Think about hacking hardware – LEDs, lightbulbs, DMX, Ardunino etc.

  • Document the instrument on film and upload the documentary (1 minute long) to vimeo in HD.
  • Embed the vimeo links in your submission1 category with a detailed commentary about the concept behind the study and the technical methods used to create the instrument (up to 600 words per video), plus images, screen shots, sound examples, manual, instructions etc.

OR some other proposal by agreement with the group’s supervisor.

Submission 2

This will consist of a significant piece of audiovisual performance (or offline work) that goes beyond the studies of submission 1 into an in-depth and multidimensional demonstration of the ideas you’ve been exploring on the project.
This work will be performed publically at Inspace in presentation week and should last somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, unless there is a strong reason for the piece being shorter (or longer).
The performance and a “studio version” of the piece will be documented for submission and assessment in a vimeo compatible format
The tools and resources developed will be documented carefully and made avaialble with the submission. These might include video and sound file resources that are mixed live, software patches and systems, instruction manuals or documentation of performance, editing, montage techniques or schematics of interfaces that you have developed.

Submission 3

This is an invididual submission consisting of a short essay submitted to the project website. This will examine and analyse a specific issue relevant to the project. It will not be a diary or list of excuses about the collaboration but an objectively considered discussion of a relevant concept.

Submission 4

Is an ongoing assessment of your contribution to the project, manifested in blog posts, attendance at meetings and general contribution to the welfare of the group and the project itself.

Resources and starting points


Altman, Rick. 1992. Sound Theory, Sound Practice. Routledge.
———. 2004. Silent Film Sound. Columbia University Press.
Baker, Frederick. 2007. The Art of Projectionism. Czernin Verlags Gmbh.
Boorman, John, and Walter Donohue. 1996. Projections 6: Film-makers on Film-making. Faber and Faber.
Brougher, Kerry, and Judith Zilczer. 2005. Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900. Thames & Hudson.
Chion, Michel. 1994. Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. New York: Columbia University Press.
———. 2009. Film, a Sound Art. New York: Columbia University Press.
Collins, Karen. 2008. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. MIT Press.
Daniels, Dieter, Sarah Naumann, and Jan Thoben. 2010. Audiovisuology 1. See This Sound: An Interdisciplinary Compendium of Audiovisual Culture. König.
Robertson, Robert. 2009. Eisenstein on the Audiovisual: The Montage of Music, Image and Sound in Cinema. Tauris Academic.
Tittel, Claudia. 2009. “Sound Art as Sonification, and the Artistic Treatment of Features in Our Surroundings.” Organised Sound 14 (01): 57-64. doi:10.1017/S1355771809000089.

audiovisual examples

Search youtube for Stan Brackhage

Early innovators

  • Oskar Fischinger
  • Walter Ruttmann
  • Viking Eggeling
  • Hans Richter
  • Len Lye

Mid century practitioners

  • James Whitney Yantra (1956)
  • Brion Gysin (Dreammachine 1960)
  • La Monte Young (Dream House 1962)
  • Tony Conrad (The Flicker 1966)
  • Max Neuhaus (Sound Walks 1966)

More contemporary activity

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