Start making sense: live audio-visual media performance

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Cooke, G 2010, 'Start making sense: live audio-visual media performance', International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 193-208.

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While being shown footage recently of a live audio-visual performance of mine an abstract visualization of a piece of electro-acoustic music a colleague asked me the fateful question, Yes, but what is it about? He was asking, essentially, What does it mean that these images and sounds are occurring before me, what is the status of this audio-visual material, and what kind of spectator am I, how can I read this, how can I make sense of this? Despite a complex and interrelated set of artistic traditions and technological lineages, there is still little scholarship on the current state of live audiovisual production and performance. Writings on VJ culture are beginning to appear in various forums, and the number of festivals dedicated to this art form is steadily increasing, yet live media performance remains under-theorized, in part because it sits eternally in between traditional modes of production and performance and there is conjecture as to how to understand it, and in part, perhaps, simply because it remains a relatively new form of new media. In this article I will synthesize some of the existing writings on live media and VJ culture. My overall aim through this is to suggest some answers to the question of how live media performances can be understood to make sense: not only how live media performances make sense as meaning, as conceptual sense, but also how live media performances make a new kind of perceptual sense.

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