Audiovisual Performance

Music 203 | Fall 2020 | CCRMA


Constantin Basica

Tue/Thu 10:30am-11:50pm
Remotely via Zoom (link TBA)

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 performance on stage and online. 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, network art. Readings, listening-viewings, discussions, and analyses of relevant works provide a conceptual framework. Labs and assignments give students hands-on experience in crafting and performing their own audiovisual works. The course culminates with a public live streaming show. A background in either music or visual arts is 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.




A minimum of a camera (camcorder, DSLR, mirrorless camera, phone camera) is required. Having a MIDI controller, a Kinect, or a microcontroller + sensors is recommended, but not required.


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 6 – Nov 6). For the rest of the course (Nov 7-19), each student must rent it for $9.99. For audio and video editing, students are free to use any software. Audacity and DaVinci Resolve are cross-platform, free and open-source digital editors for audio and video. GarageBand and iMovie can also be used freely on Macintosh computers. We will use OBS and jacktrip or Jamulus for live streaming.


A willingness to perform with 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. Late assignments will not be accepted, because each of them has to be presented and critiqued by peers.




Class attendance and participation in discussions: 30%

Project 1: 10% (create an original audiovisual composition without human representation)

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

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 us 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 Professor 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 15


Introductions; Syllabus

Lecture (1): Music-Video-Performance


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

Thrice Removed (2008) by Brian Cullen

Mini-assignment (due Sep 17): 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 17


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)

Thrice Removed (2008) by Brian Cullen

Due: Reading (1) and Listening-Viewings (1) + Mini-Assignment


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 Sep 29): Create a short 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): conformance, complementation, contest.





Tue Sep 22


Lab (1): Basic digital audio-video editing techniques

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



Thu Sep 24


Lab (2): Live streaming software: JACK, jacktrip, Jamulus, SoundJack, RTMP, OBS, OSC





Tue Sep 29


Due: Project 1 – presentation and critique



Thu Oct 1


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)



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)

Project 2 (due Oct 15): Devise and present a short (two-minute maximum) 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.





Tue Oct 6


Lab (3): Cycling ’74 Max

Basic operations; audio and video playback and manipulations.

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



Thu Oct 8


Lab (4): Cycling ’74 Max

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


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 13


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

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 15


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 Oct 29): Develop a collaborative audiovisual performance with one or more of your peers, in which you appear as ‘real’ (live) performers and ‘virtual’ (prerecorded) performers. Present it in Zoom.





Tue Oct 20


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)


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)



Thu Oct 22


Lab (5): Cycling ’74 Max

3D graphics

[+ check in on Project 3]





Tue Oct 27


Lecture (6): Video in Composed Theatre

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)

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



Thu Nov 29


Due: Project 3 – presentation and critique


Final Project Proposal (due Nov 3): 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 10-15 minutes.





Tue Nov 3


Lecture (7): 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 5


Guest Lecture: TBC





Tue Nov 10


Final Project – Updates

Lecture (8) + Activity: Performance Art – From Physical to Online Presence



Thu Nov 12


Final Project – 1st Draft: presentations and critique





Tue Nov 17


Final Project – 2nd Draft: dress rehearsal and feedback



Thu Nov 19


Final Project – Public Live Streaming Performance (6pm PST)