video art

To Spring: Charlottesville

As part of the Revel at IX event used to raise money for The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative I created a 15 minute video art loop (no sound) that was played all night during the after party.

To create the video I spent several weeks shooting footage at a variety of locations in Charlottesville at different times of the day. I then compiled the footage so that they made the following transitions during the duration of the piece:

Nature -> Architecture -> Urban

Morning -> Night

Intimate -> Public

Next, I matted all of the videos using a 5x5 grid of squares with a rising and falling “echo effect” that changes the number of visible squares on the screen from one to twenty and back again. The patterns vary from left to right, up to down, and a variety of different diagonal configurations.

This project was both my first foray into video art without sound and I also learned a great deal about Charlottesville: its nature and urban landscape.

Words & Music

This semester I collaborated with three creative writing MFA students at University of Virginia to create three new multimedia works based on and incorporating poetry they wrote. The pieces were presented at the Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville as part of the Tom Tom Founders Festival 2015.

The first piece, “For My Brother”, was created in collaboration with Courtney Flerlage for fixed media:

The process for creating the piece involved initially creating the first section without Courtney’s voice, to get an idea for the kinds of textures and overall mood that meshed with both of our visions for the work. I then recorded Courtney reading the poem (both in a normal speaking voice and whispered). The voice was then chopped up, manipulated, and accompanied with materials that “painted” the text (e.g. “falling” in text -> some musical concept of falling in music). Lastly pitched material was added in (violin samples and manipulated train whistle) to tie the sections together timbrally.

The second piece, “BLUR”, was created in collaboration with Caitlin Neely for video art and live reading:

Creating video art for text was a new venture for me. I have done sound design for film and video art for live music in the past, but actually creating visuals to accompany words was new. I ended up creating a set of visuals that I mentally tied to parts of the text and then arranged them in time such that enough synchronicity was present for the audience to pair them in a meaningful way. I then went back through and added simple, descriptive sound cues to flesh out the texture.

The last piece, “Singing Saw” was created in collaboration with Matthew MacFarland, for live electronics and live reading:

Because of the focus of this piece on a musical saw, the first step to creating this piece was, of course, to record sounds of the musical saw. Along with this recording I also recorded guitar samples and a variety of foleys (apples falling, leaves movement, foot steps, etc.) used to accompany the reading of the text. I used foley and non-musical sounds to create the sense of sections within the work and instrumental samples to make the sections cohesive overall. Because of the constant story-telling accompaniment of the sounds in this work it could be classified as “Cinema for the Ears”.

Collaborating with poets was wonderful. Being able to dive into the musical world of a poem hidden beneath the text and bring it to life was a great deal of fun and work, and I look forward to doing it again.

Ring | Axle | Gear

For my senior recital at Oberlin I created a tryptic video art piece titled Ring | Axle | Gear. Each section of the piece is around a minute and a half, and explores various ways in which the shapes ring, axle (line), and gear can be manipulated, accompanied tightly by sound design that uses a wide variety of synthesized and real world sounds. The piece was created using Adobe After Effects, several Trapcode effects from Red Giant Software, and Vade’s v002 plugins for the visuals, and Pro Tools, Soundhack, and MaxMSP for the audio.


I created the piece by first working a bit on the video, then matching that with the sound design, extending the audio a bit, matching that with the video, and so forth. The piece was an exploration of animation for me, and the first time I had created animation in a timeline environment (as opposed to the text-based environment of Processing or the visual object based environment of Jitter). The animation explores 2- vs. 3-dimensional space, transitioning violently or smoothly between them, and at times settling into a kind of 2.5-dimension world. I also explored “glitches” in the video software I was using: artifacts that come from rotating an object faster than it was intended to be rotated, or using over-saturation and video feedback to expand the color palette chaotically.


The audio was made using real world sounds that have been manipulated so much as to be almost completely unrecognizable or, on the other hand, audio that is completely unaffected (such as the metallic sounds in Axle). I also utilized “authentic” glitchy sounds, sounds that were the result of computational accidents, primarily corrupted audio files.


I’m interested in exploring animation in more depth in the future. My first goal is to bring what I’m doing more into the 21st century: I feel a great deal of Ring | Axle | Gear is trapped stylistically between analog and early digital video from the 1970s/80s and more modern video (creatively utilizing particles, 3D models, accurate shading and depth-of-field and other techniques that fast computers allow). My second goal is to explore medium mapping within fixed video: many video softwares (including After Effects) allow parameters of the video to be controlled by audio heuristics, e.g. the volume of the low frequencies of an audio file causing a video object to jump or deform. This technique will add more depth to the interaction between the video and the sound than could be achieved with “by hand” sound design.