A ”˜Real Time Image Conductor’ Or A Kind Of Cinema?: Towards Live Visual Effects


  • Peter Richardson


In this paper I describe a project that investigated methods for the incorporation of filmic visual effects (VFX) into artworks and performed environments. VFX are the computer-generated processes used in the film industry for manipulating live action and animated elements.

Traditionally moving image visuals in a performative / gallery / club context have been experienced as playback mediums, in which material is fixed in time and played from beginning to end. Real-time visuals require the intervention of a performer or a user to ”˜cut up’ images live.

Since 2005 [1] a number of film makers have moved away from narrative cinema towards ”˜live cinema’: remixing their films for audiences as a live performed experience. This raises interesting possibilities to extend the genre within a performative art based approach.

Few filmmakers or VJs have incorporated ”˜live’ visual effects as part of this cinematic experience. It is the tension between remixing and creating images and live visual effects that I identify as a key area for debate. Using the live cinema works of Peter Greenaway and Mike Figgis I investigate how ”˜live’ this cinema really is or could ever hope to be. To further contextualize the possibilities for live visual effects I describe and analyze: Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot: A performance / interactive film of Sir Peter Maxwell Davis’s work of music theatre.

  1. On 17th June 2005, Peter Greenaway did a VJ performance during the NoTV CNCDNC visual art club evening in Amsterdam.