Pseudo-Formalism as Strategy for Mapping the Audiovisual Body

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


My presentation will focus on an emerging strategy of what I have termed ‘pseudo-formalism.’ A play on Kirby’s term “pseudo-modernism” (Kirby, 2006), my use of the term pseudo-formalism refers to practice that uses deliberate formal models, without necessarily insisting on the absolutist theories common to much of modernism (e.g. Schoenberg’s serial technique). While rejecting the anti-formalism that post-modernism often celebrated, pseudo-formalism does not discard postmodernism’s focus on conceptualism, but seeks instead to merge formal rigour with conceptual awareness.

Contemporary examples of pseudo-formalism can be seen in many body-based performance works, including Cecile Babiole, Laurent Dailleau, and Atau Tanaka’s Sensors Sonics Sights (SSS), in which three expert audio-visual performers control abstract and semi-abstract music and imagery with three different types of body sensors - In my own performance Opto-Phono-Kinesia (OPK), one performer controls all sound and visuals with body movement. Employing a pseudo-formalist strategy of synaesthesia as a model for matching of movement to sound, light and image, OPK is unified by consistent multimodal mapping across these domains (Gibson, 2018). In addition, as part of a conceptual strategy to reflect on the nature of the body in the digital age, OPK simultaneously uses dystopian audio-visual samples, combined with demanding physical exertions on the part of the performer. Conceptually OPK makes a case for physically-engaged interaction in response to much of present-day ‘lazy media’ (as exemplified by the gaming industry), while at the same time the piece subtly references possible damaging uses of those technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2018
EventAVBODY: Symposium on the Audiovisual Body - University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jun 201812 Jun 2018


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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