Audio-Visual Installations combine sounds & light or objects in a space
Audio-Visual Installation Art
Audio-visual installation art (AV art) combines elements of audio with visuals, creating a multi sensory experience for the viewer. It can take various forms, including performance, installation art, light art, kinetic sculpture and interactive art, with many artists blurring boundaries between disciplines. Herman Kolgen’s breathtaking performance, Seismik, is one such example,
combining powerful digital imaging with erratic sounds and music to create what he calls an ‘audiocinetic’ sculpture. In today’s culture of ever-expanding technology new and experimental forms of audio-visual installation art continue to be uncovered and explored.
Audio-Visual Art Through Time
Some of the earliest examples of audio-visual art can be traced back to the Italian Futurists of the early 20 th century. In 1915, Luigi Russolo and Fortunato Depero designed art machines capable of creating multisensory experiences involving colour, sound and movement. In Art And The Senses, art historian Francesca Bacci describes their pioneering artworks as “an assault on the
public’s senses.” Dada and Surrealist artists of the early to mid 20 th century also experimented with the ways sound could be integrated into radical and subversive forms of art, to shock and disrupt the viewing public.
Throughout the 1950s various artists and musicians broke with conventional gallery systems to produce event based ‘happenings’, collaborative experiences merging sound, visuals and performance. Walter Giers was one such pioneer, combining aspects of sound, kinetic sculpture and light in his audio-visual art contructions. In the 1960s, Fluxus artists continued these ideas
further, merging sound with the latest technological developments, such as Joe Jones’ self playing guitars.
In the 1960s and 70s, Italian born, American sound artist and furniture designer Harry Bertoia transformed functioning objects into musical instruments, which he would play to create multisensory experiences, as “sound sculptures”, or “sonambient” objects; he even set up his
own studio to record his music. Composer Bill Fontana explored the ways his kinetic sculpture could record live sounds and play them back on a loop, forming a vital role in his experimental performance art.
Audio-Visual Art into the Future
Audio visual art practices today continue to expand and develop in tandem with technology as new possibilities are constantly being opened up; artists find endless ways of combining sound and visuals to overlap with interactive art, kinetic sculpture and light art. British musician and sound designer Brian Williams combines elements of sound and light art together to produce immersive experiences, often at music festivals such as Unsound, Atonal and Incubate, describing his art as “painting with sound.”
Overlap, aka Michael Denton and Anna McCrickard, produce performances, music VJ sets and installations that combine abstract, painterly imagery with their melodic, minimalist music. Multidisciplinary artist Julien Bayle also works at the intersect between sound and visual, broadly exploring the concepts of time expansion and contraction, combining computer generated sounds and visuals with live performance. Duo Maotik & Metametric’s Omnis continues in this vein, as a sensory, overwhelming and expansive experience.
In August 2013, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held the landmark exhibition Soundings: A Contemporary Score, which they describe as the “first group exhibition to single out sound as a form of artistic expression.” The show brought together the work of 16 globally renowned artists who explore innovative approaches to audio visual art, producing art forms including “…architectural interventions … visualisations of otherwise inaudible sound … an
exploration of how sound richochets within a gallery (and) a range of field recordings”, revealing how limitless the possibilities for this art form really are. The exhibition has opened the floodgate for future displays of audio-visual installation art, with more galleries and exhibition venues than ever offering a range of new opportunities.
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