Video presentation by Randy Nordschow
Although the synthesis of visuals with music is a practice perhaps as old as music itself, the recent collaborative activity in this venture is overwhelming. Economics and technology have allowed for the democratization of audio/visual (A/V), increasing its prevalence in many music communities. From small clubs and warehouses to hallowed concert halls, A/V is becoming so common that much of the audience scarcely regards it as its own entity. But while it continues to permeate all manner of music, much of the activity remains, on the whole, an underground phenomenon worthy of an in-depth look.
Music, despite its temporal nature, has always had a degree of permanence beyond the arts it collaborates with. Music written for a ballet often exists separately from the choreography, but not vice versa. Film soundtracks can sell millions, but a film without its soundtrack is naked. Even the most incorporative of traditional forms, opera, is classified as a musical production before a theatrical one; and while the visual elements change with each new production, the score is rarely touched. Experiments with static visuals and changeable scores most often seem to be confined to drug enthusiasts who own a copy of The Wizard of Oz.
To a degree this aural sanctity still exists within the burgeoning A/V world, but the separation of parts becomes more problematic. Which isn’t to label the whole scene as monolithic; the differences in approaches within the genre are more pronounced even than those in the chamber music world. But on the whole, if one can even generalize within this field, A/V takes the synesthesia of aural, visual, and physical elements to a whole new level.
Feasibly capturing an accurate snapshot of this scene is a challenge greater than the already formidable task of merely understanding it. Thus, the NewMusicBox team embarked on one of its most ambitious projects to date by interviewing four distinctly different artists in the field on two coasts within the span of a few short weeks. The overlap in the approaches of the featured artists was minimal, and all participants had a great deal to say. If there was a common thread to their efforts, it was this: As music continues its trend of trying to be everything, the musical art that actually does encompass everything will take on more significance.