Optronica 2007

The celebration of visual music on the big screen
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Split between the impressively relaunched National Film Theatre (now named BFI Southbank, pictured) and the IMAX, Clash caught a few of the highlights at the leading celebration of visual music on the big screen.

There is a strange, excitable atmosphere buzzing around the IMAX tonight. It’s the first night of London’s Optronica festival, celebrating an emerging genre that excitingly blends music and visuals together; what better place to do it than the cavernous theatre and square-eye-inducing screen of the country’s largest cinema.

Trevor Jackson came to the stage to flex his muscles, and build on his reputation as a leader of the field. The music was progressive, hypnotic acid house, so loud that it made the speakers crackle and shake under its weight. The visuals were also basic and bright; primary colours, boxes, circles and triangles would appear and resonate visually on the screen, in time with the music; every last programmed snare or kick drum was represented by a visual element.

After Trevor Jackson had finished picking everyone’s brains with lights, sounds and colours, it was the turn of Lemon Jelly’s Deakin and Franglen. This time the music was more leftfield breakbeat, with some really heavy bass lines. The visuals again were simple, but crisper and more intricately designed; where Jackson used rough, basic shapes to represent the core, Lemon Jelly were about the evolution. Fantastic; especially parts with flashing lights, bass lines represented as fluctuating lines and speeding through a light tunnel at about 200mph.

I can certainly appreciate the visual element of the whole thing, and can see the need for the mixture of high/low brow art, of the direct influences to both body and mind. It was a real eye-opening event; let’s hope that next year they will take the seats out of the cinema, as it’s quite frustrating trying to dance on top of a chair.

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