Audiovisual Live Performance

2 Light Shows

While artists continued to develop color organs into the mid-twentieth century and beyond, the cultural changes of the 1960s brought about a new kind of visual performance. Light shows were a manifestation of the social consciousness, communalism, and psychedelia of the era. They also quickly became a popular element of rock concerts and spread to countries throughout the world. Although some light shows were limited to liquid projections and could be performed by one person, larger shows were performed by ensembles that superimposed multiple projected images and effects on the screen. For example, the Los Angeles ensemble Single Wing Turquoise Bird typically projected 16-mm films, still images on lithograph, and liquids simultaneously, often with spinning color and strobe wheels placed in front of the other projections. Light shows stand apart from most historical visual performances in that they were ensemble performances, often with six to nine members projecting at the same time. Although they were normally performed as accompaniment to music, they could also be performed as the central element of a performance. As did some color organ artists, light show performers developed visual structures that were in themselves musical; this musicality was compounded by the interactions inherent in ensemble performance.