In the last few years technical progress in information technologies has ushered in a veritable revolution in the field of film making and audiovisual shows. Ever increasing storage capacity, the ever rising speed of microprocessors and the development of real-time image processing software have paved the way for highly innovative uses of image and sound. Today, image sampling, transformation and projection is carried out nearly instantly, which obviously has direct consequences on film making, concerts and performance. These technological advances open up new prospects in the search for links between image and sound, and breath new life into the concept of audiovisual synesthesia that has never ceased to intrigue filmmakers and musicians throughout the twentieth century.
While there were already certain technical and aesthetic analogies between experimental films and electro-acoustic music through the use of Found Footage (collages and montages made with discarded footage from existing films), today the live treatment of both images and sound place the two media on an equal footing. Thanks to the real-time treatment of images, film can now boast the same mobility as music. Visual sampling, instant transformation and video restitution in real time have brought visual and sound techniques closer together.
Today, image concerts, sound projections, visual and sound sampling are to be found at every music festival, together on the same stage. Like DJ’s, who mix their records live and process sounds with filters, VJ’s (Visual Jockeys) mix images in real time, create loops, accelerate or slow them down, transform the structure and so forth.
“We have entered the age of recombination, the age of recombined bodies, recombined sex categories, recombined texts and recombined culture.”‘ The age of recombined sound and visual samples is notably reflected in the work of Coldcut, one of the first performing groups to take an interest in assembling sounds with images, especially from Kung-Fu films, rearranged in the techno spirit, according to specific musical criteria. This appropriation process and the idea of recycling images is also a specialty of Hextatic, particularly in their last album Rewind, which is sold with a CDROM on which you can visualize the way the group explores rhythmic images. With Hextatic, the succession of sounds that goes with a given image is what creates the music. For instance, one of the many elements that make up the rhythm of “Auto 2000” is a loop consisting of a car door slamming. In “Deadly Media”, the rhythm is essentially generated by a dozen voices of TV hosts, sampled, looped, and transformed. On the stage, Hextatic does not just project images on a screen, but plays them; interprets them, and sometimes even improvises on them live.
- PHILIPPE LANGLOIS, director Education and Cultural Outreach, IRCAM, France
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ISEA2000 Catalogue Papers. Produced by musica falsa, magazine on music, art & philosophy. Texts collected by Bastian Gallet. Translations by ALTO.