Thesis – A Visualist’s Practice

01 Sep Thesis – A Visualist’s Practice

A-Visualists-Practice.pdf (39 downloads) (Right Click and select “Save As”)

A Visualist’s Practice the the culmination of my two years in the MFA program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. My thesis advisor was Curtis Bahn. I focused on the history and practice of combining images and sound in live performance. I had been developing my own performance interface for several years already, but the MFA program allowed me to solidify some of my thoughts on the use of a visual performance instrument.

In the thesis I cover a brief history of light instruments, describe my visual instrument, and give a detailed outline of my thesis show Overflow. I also conducted interviews with some of the well known names in live visuals, including Tony Martin, Chris Allen (of the Light surgeons) and D-Fuse. Below is the abstract, please let me know if you’ve got some feedback on the paper.


This thesis investigates the use of live video performance within a musical context. Live video performance involves projected video imagery that is digitally manipulated through the use of software in real-time. A performer of live video may use hardware interfaces that permit a level of expressiveness on par with that of a musical instrument. Artists have been creating and refining different interfaces for interacting with light and images in a musical context for centuries. Early interfaces relied on an idea of directly connecting musical elements, such at pitch, with abstract visual elements, such as color. Modern methods of interacting with video do not require these direct connections to musical elements, and instead allow the video to be an independent contributor to the experience of a new kind of multimedia performance. I give an example of an interface for live video performance by detailing my own expressive visual instrument. I also outline the use of live video in the culmination of my thesis work, a performance of five multimedia pieces that explore the various relationships between projected video and music.