Scratch Video and Rave: The Rise of the Live Visuals Performer (1985-2000)

Léon McCarthy, Steve Gibson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter will consider the era from 1985 to 2000, a period when Live Visual performance practice came to be defined within popular culture and includes a discussion of the collectives Emergency Broadcast Network, Coldcut and Hexstatic, who were key drivers helping to develop and position Live Visual performance within the mainstream. The chapter will chart how during this period the post-punk DIY aesthetic led visual artists to experiment with VHS video technology, a development that led to the emergence of scratch video. Scratch video was a movement that emerged from the underground nightclub scene in London, then crossed into mainstream consciousness via MTV. Its styles and approaches were then taken up by the artists projecting visuals as part of the emerging rave and house scene. The 1990s and the advent of the desktop computer (along with digital video mixers) brought computing technology to the masses, enabling a select group of audio-visual artists to pioneer its use as a tool for the production, control, interaction with and real-time performance of audio-visuals. In parallel to this, rave culture appeared out of the acid house scene and was involved in establishing the parameters for the hedonistic audio-visual event that continued in the 21st century with club culture.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLive Visuals
Subtitle of host publicationHistory, Theory, Practice
EditorsSteve Gibson, Stefan Arisona, Donna Leishman, Atau Tanaka
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781003282396
ISBN (Print)9781032252612, 9781032252681
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies


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