Digital image-music connections in the work of Jens Brand, Orm Finnendahl and Michael Beil

Many composers of the current middle generation aged forty to fifty work with computers and video as a matter of course. Following the technological-demographic regularity, there are even more in the generation of the under forties or under thirties. Michael Beil, born in 1963 and head of the Studio for Electronic Music at the Cologne University of Music and Dance since 2007, also composes with videos. He is primarily interested in playing with the temporality of music and its perception on the basis of memories, visualizations, anticipations and current auditory and visual impressions.

In many cases, intermediality degenerates into mere entertainment or arbitrary imaging of music that was not conceived with visual staging in mind. Many an avant-garde computer image performance with glowing wavy lines and waving tendrils quickly comes across as arbitrary and merely decorative accessory to the music, even if it, like the music, is supposed to originate from the same digital code. Much in this area can hardly be distinguished from pop-cultural ambience, light and color design as it flickers in relevant pubs, clubs or discotheques. Often, music combined with video runs the risk of being marginalized by the prevailing dominance of the eye over the ear. What has to happen so that the visual level draws the viewer’s attention back to the audible?

Insofar as the use of new media opens up new means of representation and expression and opens up new possibilities of experience for the audience, this development is very much to be welcomed. It is precisely through an overall conception of image and sound that is as integral as possible and that directly relates both levels to each other from the outset that analogies and structural parallels between the media can be uncovered, for example, and that different or similar perceptual psychological conditions can be made conscious between the various senses. Perhaps in this way music can grow new connection points to areas of life and experience that also reach listeners beyond traditional instrumental or vocal music by opening up alternative access points to new music for this audience. However, although Michael Beil’s video-music compositions explicitly play with the temporality of perception between memory, immediate present, and expectation, he is skeptical about the possibility of better communicating new music through included videos.

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