Audiovisual Performance

Music 203 | Fall 2021 | CCRMA


Constantin Basica

Tue/Thu 11:30am-1:00pm
Classroom (Knoll 217) / Stage (Knoll 317)

Office hours: by appointment




The unification of music and visual arts has been attempted throughout history, opera being one example. In the 20th Century, sounds and moving images have been syncretized in various art forms, such as film or video art, as well as in popular culture (television, music video, the Internet, etc.). Today, with fast technological developments and the convenience of hardware/software tools, media artists employ both sonic and visual elements in their performance practice. What are the interrelations between music, video, and themselves as performers?


Students will perform with music and video in synergy. The course explores various theories and practices of engaging audiovisual media in the context of stage performance. Examples come from the scenes of experimental music and multimedia performance. Other audiovisual categories to be approached: avant-garde film, visual music, video art, music video, etc. Readings, listening-viewings, discussions, and analyses of relevant works will provide a conceptual framework. Labs and assignments will give students hands-on experience in crafting and performing their own audiovisual works. The course culminates with a public show. A background in either music or visual arts is strongly recommended, but not required.




During the course, students will:

• become familiar with historical and theoretical aspects of various audiovisual categories and genres;

• learn to define, distinguish, and assess various types of conceptual interrelations between music and video;

• expand their understanding of audiovisual performance based on recent experimental practices;

• gain basic skills in audio and video production (recording and editing), as well as live audiovisual performance using the software Max;

• apply theoretical notions of audiovisual relationships in the creation and performance of the assigned projects.




We will use the visual programming language Max to perform with music and video in real time. We start using Max in Week 4. Max can be used for free as a trial for one month (Oct 12 – Nov 12). If you would like to use Max for the rest of the course (Nov 13 – Dec 3), you will have to rent it for $9.99 (or continue using it without the ability to save).


For audio and video editing, students are free to use any software. Audacity, Reaper, and DaVinci Resolve are cross-platform, free and
open-source digital editors for audio and video. GarageBand and iMovie can also be used free of charge on Macintosh computers.


A willingness to perform using your body is mandatory!




Students are expected to attend and actively participate in all lectures, labs, presentations, and critiques. More than two absences will reduce the final grade by 5% for each missed session.


Students are expected to uphold the Stanford Honor Code and Fundamental Standard.




Class attendance and participation in discussions: 30%

Project 1: 10% (create an original audiovisual composition without human representation - due Oct 5)

Project 2: 10% (remix your colleagues' materials from Project 1 and adapt them into a live performance - due Oct 21)

Project 3: 20% (collaborative music-video-performance with real & virtual performers)

Final Project: 30% (independent performative project with video and music)




It is my intention that this course serves students from all backgrounds. I view the diversity brought by students as an asset to the learning environment. It is my priority to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment where all student contributions are valued. I welcome any suggestions for improving the effectiveness of the course for any student individually, so please feel free to let me know about any issues or wishes you might have. Moreover, I encourage students to provide suggestions regarding categories of artists that are underrepresented in the course materials.


If you feel offended by anything during the class, please voice out your concern either immediately or with me in private. Also, if there are any factors that interfere with your ability to participate in the class and complete your assignments, please inform me as soon as possible so that we can make arrangements.


I acknowledge the right for all people to be addressed and referred to in accordance with their personal identity. Therefore, please feel free to correct any use of a mistaken name or mistaken gender pronoun in relation to yourself. We will give students the opportunity to provide preferred names and pronouns in the first class meeting, and will do our best to address and refer to all students accordingly and support classmates in doing so as well.*


If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me:


* This paragraph has been borrowed from Prof. Patricia Alessandrini.




Students with Documented Disabilities: Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty. Unless the student has a temporary disability, Accommodation letters are issued for the entire academic year. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066), URL:




Note: all readings and listening-viewings are due the following session.





Tue Sep 21 (Stage)


Introductions; Syllabus

Lecture (1): Video-Music-Performance

In-class listening-viewing: Thrice Removed (2008) by Brian Cullen


Reading (1): Anahid Kassabian: How Music Works in Film (in "Hearing Film", pp. 37-49)

Listening-Viewings (1):

Lichtspiel Opus 1 (1921) by Walter Ruttman

An Optical Poem (1938) by Oskar Fischinger

Mini-assignment (due Sep 28): Share an audiovisual work (film, music video, audiovisual composition, etc.) that you find particularly compelling. Tell us why the sound-image connections are effective from your perspective.



Thu Sep 23 (Classroom)


Lecture (2): Interrelations between Sounds and Images

Experimental film, visual music, music video, theories of audiovisual linking.

Discussion of relevant works:

Rhythmus 21 (1921) by Hans Richter (excerpt)

The Flicker (1965) by Tony Conrad (excerpt)

Synchromy (1971) by Norman McLaren (excerpt)

HELLO (2014) by Alexander Schubert (excerpt)

Due: Reading (1) and Listening-Viewings (1)


Reading (2): Aimee Mollaghan: Questions of Attribution and Contribution: What Constitutes a Visual Music Film? (in “The Visual Music Film”, pp. 9-19)

Listening-Viewing (2):

The Book of Sand (2015) by Michel van der Aa

Project  1 (due Oct 5): Create a short (1-2 minutes) fixed audiovisual composition in which you combine original sounds/music (field recordings, foley sounds, recorded instruments, composed music, etc.) and moving images (nature, objects, drawings, computer graphics, etc.). Avoid any traditional “plot”. No person should be represented clearly (voice or image) . Human agency may be perceived through other means (video editing, camera movement, music, etc.). The relationship between the audio and the video should undergo Nicholas Cook's three multimedia models (in any order and as many times you want): conformance, complementation, contest. Upload your AV file here.





Tue Sep 28 (Stage)


Lab (1): Using audio and video recording equipment (portable audio recorders and microphones; photo/video cameras and lenses)

Due: Reading (2) and Listening-Viewing (2)

Due: Mini-Assignment



Thu Sep 30 (Classroom)


Lab (2): Basic digital audio/video editing techniques

[+ check-in on Project 1]





Tue Oct 5 (Stage)


Due: Project 1 – presentation and critique


Project 2 (due Oct 21): Devise and present a short (2-3 minutes) live performance with Max. As main audio-video material employ any of the fixed media that your peers produced in Project 1 and remix it. You are allowed to remove material from the original composition and/or add new audio-video material. Add your body into the performance: for example, play an instrument, manipulate the video using a controller, perform movements to accompany the audiovisual media, etc. What solutions can you find for reinterpreting the sounds/images of your colleagues and connecting them to your persona? How do the relationships between audio and video change in a live performance as opposed to the fixed version? Offer your audiovisual material from Project 1 to your peers by uploading the file(s) to this folder.



Thu Oct 7 (Classroom)


Lecture (3): Audiovisual Interfaces/Instruments

Reactive/Interactive performance, audiovisual mapping, sensors.

Discussion of relevant works:

TV Cello (1971) by Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman

Violin Power (1978) by Steina Vasulka

Lucid Possesion (2001-10) by Toni Dove (excerpt)

data structures/monoliths ii (for chion) (2009) by Sam Pluta

»Slices« (2008-09) by Jacob Sello (excerpt)

de/Rastra (2012) by Kyle Evans (excerpt)

Irmat Studies (2013) by Johannes Kreidler (excerpts)

Memory Trace (2015) by Pamela Z (excerpts)



Reading (3): Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss: Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal Reflections: On Cut-Copy-Paste Culture (in "The Routledge Companion To Remix Studies", pp. 54-65)

Listening-Viewing (3):

Stelarc: The Man with Three Ears (documentary)






Tue Oct 12 (Classroom)


Lab (3): Cycling ’74 Max

Basic operations; audio and video playback and manipulations.

Due: Reading (3) and Listening-Viewing (3)



Thu Oct 14 (Classroom)


Lab (4): Cycling ’74 Max

Connecting the physical world to Max (hardware controllers, tracking techniques).

[+ check-in on Project 2]


Reading (4): Gene McHugh: Excerpts from Post Internet (in "Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-first Century", pp. 185-198)

Listening-Viewings (4):

Video Quartet (2002) by Christian Marclay (excerpt)

Chorus (2014) by Holly Herndon and Akihiko Taniguchi (excerpt)

Ursonate (2015) by Klaus Obermaier and Electronica Futurelab (excerpt)





Tue Oct 19 (Stage)


Lecture (4): Audiovisual Performance in the Cyber Age

Remix culture, Internet art, transmedia, social composing.

Discussion of relevant works:

Hitchcock Études (2013) by Nicole Lizée (excerpts)

LOST PLAY (2014-15) by Jagoda Szmytka (excerpts)

[custom #1] (2016) by Óscar Escudero (excerpts)

Metanoia (2016) by Alex Hay (opera "game")

Alter Bahnhof Video Walk (2012) by Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller (excerpt)

Due: Reading (4) and Listening-Viewings (4)



Thu Oct 21 (Stage)


Due: Project 2 – presentation and critique


Reading (5): Steve Dixon: The digital double (in "New Visions in Performance", pp. 15-25)

Listening-Viewings (5):

What You Mean We? (1986) by Laurie Anderson (excerpt)

One (2002) by Michel van der Aa (excerpt)

Project 3 (due Nov 4): Develop a collaborative audiovisual performance with one of your peers, in which both of you appear as real performers on stage and virtual performers in the video. The video and the music may be preproduced and/or live. Your voice(s) may be employed in addition to sounds/music.





Tue Oct 26 (Classroom)


Lecture (5): Virtual Doppelgängers in Audiovisual Performance

Mirrors, clones, androids, cyborgs, simulacra.

Discussion of relevant works:

BLACKJACK (2012) and caravan (2017) by Michael Beil (excerpts)

Generation Kill (2012) by Stefan Prins (excerpt)

The Reply (2016) by Leo Hoffmann (excerpt)

Good Dog (2017) by Neo Hülcker (excerpt)

ULTRACHUNK (2018) by Jennifer Walshe and Memo Akten

Due: Reading (5) and Listening-Viewings (5)



Thu Oct 28 (Classroom)


Lab (5): Cycling ’74 Max

3D graphics

[+ check-in on Project 3]


Reading (6): Rosemary Klich and Edward Scheer: Liveness and

Re-Mediation (in "Multimedia Performance", pp. 67-87)

Listening-Viewings (6):

Supervision (2007) by Builders Association (trailer)

HAMLET (2012) by The Wooster Group (excerpt)



Tue Nov 2 | No Class (Democracy Day)



Thu Nov 4 (Stage)


Due: Project 3 – presentation and critique

Due: Reading (6) and Listening-Viewings (6)


Reading (7): Lev Manovich: Representation versus Simulation (in "Language of New Media")

Listening-Viewing (7):

Feel Good Inc. (2010) by Gorillaz – live at MTV EMA

BOX (2013) by Bot & Dolly

Final Project Proposal (due Nov 9): Briefly present your idea for the final project in a three-minute formal presentation (use sketches, slides, audiovisual examples, references, etc.). The final performance should last between 3-8 minutes.





Tue Nov 9 (Classroom)


Lecture (6): Audiovisual Illusions in Performance

Auditory and optical illusions, multichannel sound diffusion and binaural audio, 3D video, projection mapping.

Discussion of relevant works:

The President Has His Photograph Taken (2005) by David Bithell

Study for String Instrument #3 (2011) by Simon Steen-Andersen

Due: Final Project Proposal (presentation + feedback)

Due: Reading (7) and Listening-Viewings (7)



Thu Nov 11 (Classroom)


Guest Lecture: Freida Abtan





Tue Nov 16 (Stage)


Final Project – Updates

Lecture (7): Video in Composed Theatre and Performance Art (be ready to perform!)

Instrumental and music theatre, The New Discipline.

Discussion of relevant works:

Luna Park (2011) by Georges Aperghis (excerpts)

The Total Mountain (2014) by Jennifer Walshe (excerpts)

Nice Guys Win Twice (2016) by Jessie Marino (excerpts)



Thu Nov 18 (Stage)


Final Project – 1st Draft: presentations and critique





Tue Nov 30 (Stage)


Final Project – 2nd Draft: dress rehearsal and feedback



Thu Dec 2 (Stage)


Final Project – Public Performance at 7:30pm (in the CCRMA Stage and live streamed to CCRMA LIVE)





Tue Dec 7 (TBA)

Critique of Final Project (optional attendance)