EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

From ‘concert’ to ‘screening’: visual anecdotes in Electroacoustic Music presentations

Diego Garro

Diego Garro, Keele University, Research Institute for the Humanities, Music and Music Technology


PDF - 205.3 kb
Download the paper


In line with the spectro-morphological tradition of much of the electroacoustic repertoire, video works produced by artists of electroacoustic provenance are predominantly abstract, especially in terms of the featured imagery. Nonetheless, despite the ensuing non-representational idiom that typifies much of the electroacoustic-video repertoire, composers enjoy the riveting compositional opportunities offered by materials, both audio and video, which possess clear mimetic potential, intended here as the ability to imitate nature or refer to it, more or less faithfully and literally.
Complex and often painstakingly long process of evaluation, manipulation and re-contextualisation of mimetic materials can result in audio-visual mise-en-scènes that, despite the recognisable causal origin, can be wonderfully ambiguous. Mimetic discourse in the Electroacoustic works of Trevor Wishart, Luc Ferrari and Francis Dhomont encourages the listener to (re)create mental images from a complex web of personal and cultural references the music taps into. I call ‘Mimetic Visual Music’ the artistic practice of audio-video design in which a very similar process of reconstruction is encouraged, with the added facet that the data for such inference is now both aural and visible.
Mimetic Visual Music poses significant idiomatic challenges and fascinating creative opportunities for the audio-visual composers, both those with a background in Electroacoustic Music and those coming from visual arts and experimental cinema. An audio-visual language disenthralled from the gravitational pull of narrativity, inevitably flirts with poetry and with its shifts from the tale, to more obscure meta-narratives.
The question underlying this paper is whether a hybridisation between sonic and visual idioms is possible, and indeed desirable, and whether blurring the boundaries between ‘concert’ and ‘screening’ presentations can provide an opportunity to (re?)vitalise the Electroacoustic paradigms and rituals.

EMS14 Proceedings