Audiovisual Parameter Mapping in Music Visualizations

1 Electronic Music in a Live Context

In the mid-1990s, personal computers came on the market that were so small, so easily portable, and at the same time so affordable that they enabled uncomplicated production of digital sounds in the context of live performances. Thus, the laptop became an easily available music instrument that, as such, not only revolutionized performance, but also the sound world of electronic live music.

Live performances by the first laptop musicians, such as Peter Rehberg alias Pita, General Magic and Farmers Manual from the Viennese record label Mego, the British duo Autechre, and musicians such as Carl Stone and Zbigniew Karkowski, featured interactive manipulation of sound processes. The visual reception of these live performances was static, however. Watching a performer simply operating a computer made it difficult for audiences to relate to the musical act of sound generation, and this created a visual vacuum.

Following an increase in processor and storage capacities, laptops could now be used to manipulate moving images in real time. Some musicians therefore began to collaborate with visual artists. Others developed their own methods for filling the visual vacuum at concerts.