Abstract Video: Mortalpalooza

If Frank Sinatra was headlining the next Coachella, what would the visuals on stage be like? If Ella Fitzgerald sold out Madison Square Garden, what types of visuals would she present? If Billie Holiday was going on tour, what would we have to visualize? These are the questions that inspired my conference project, which I used Touchdesigner for to create a music festival simulation featuring some of the greatest musicians of the past. I created 7 audio reactive visuals that I imagined would be displayed at a live performance from these artists. 

The initial idea that prompted me to create this project was the concept of competing messages. I figured I would juxtapose the past and present within the context of a highly popular idea like music festivals. While the artists I chose–except Amy Winehouse–are united by the fact that they all passed away pre-Coachella/Lollapalooza, they also symbolize my personal experiences with music, as I’d listen to these artists with my father growing up. Despite this project being personal, I knew it would resonate with the audience and one of my goals throughout this process was to give the audience a primary role in this installation. 

The beginning stages of creating this was to choose the artists I wanted to create visuals for, so after some reflection I chose 7 musicians along with some of their most popular and well known songs. I then moved into Touchdesigner and created visuals using different operators, and made each of those 7 visuals audio reactive using more operators. The final stages of this project was figuring out how the media would play once installed, so I connected all 7 videos, and all 7 audio files, into a switch operator, allowing the audience to control which musician or “stage” they were engaging with during open studios. 

This project is an ode to my childhood and the music that helped form my identity. It is also, in its current form, on the smallest scale I could imagine, which means that with funding and installation space, this project can be more established and maximized. Mortalpalooza represents the ability to bring a concept, any concept, into the physical space, allowing new forms of art to be created and celebrated. 

Author: Zoe Kovac