Human perception of sound may not be restricted to aural stimuli as perceptual experience may not be modality specific (McGurk & MacDonald, 1976; Calvert, et al, 1997; Krumhansl & Schenck, 1997; Guttman, Gilroy, & Blake, 2005; Bulkin & Groh, 2006; Skipper, van Wassenhove, Nusbaum, & Small, 2007; McAuley & Henry, 2010; Man, Kaplan, Damasio & Meyer, 2012; O’Callaghan, 2015; Vilhauer, 2015; Su & Salazar-López, 2016). Several musical works by Schnebel generate an imaginary or non-cochlear sound through live gestural performance, an image or a text; as does Pisaro’s text piece Braids : for (silent) reader; Wolman composes text pieces to evoke imaginary sound in live concert and other modes; and Ablinger uses still photography in Music without Sounds, a photo-series which ‘only make sense when considered as music’ (Ablinger, 2013, Seeing and Hearing section).

As ventriloquism seeks to reorientate the visible location of the human voice onto a dummy or character (Connor, 2000) and comic books imply sound through language (McCloud, 1993; Oyola, 2011; Vilhauer, 2015), the temporal medium of video may be capable of reorienting music beyond the fluctuations of air pressure associated with physical sound production (Berger, 2002; Guttman, Gilroy & Blake, 2005; O’Callaghan, 2015). Video presented the opportunity to apply my composerly experience of working with the temporal phenomenon of sound to an alternative temporal medium. Therefore, all pieces in the portfolio do not require any audio playback and do not have sound files attached.

Composing physically silent video pieces which conjure non-cochlear sound was not my original intention. My initial research premise was focussed towards the composition of video scores to facilitate live audiovisual performances through prepared improvisation. After attempting to realise my original intention I discovered several issues which prompted me to shift the project away from scores towards the composition of video pieces. Although the shift produced some considerable obstacles it was ultimately a conduit to previously unfamiliar and provocative artistic approaches and concerns. Throughout the project I actively engaged with a process of following, doing or ‘going along’ (Ingold, 2013, p.1) by exploring and steering into the challenges of and for materials, concepts and pieces (Ingold, 2010) because ‘art is a crucial, dangerous operation we perform on ourselves. Unless we take a chance, we die in art.’ (Feldman, 1985, p. 52).

The main research interests of the portfolio were:

• Issues of authorship and ownership: composing video scores using found footage to facilitate live audiovisual performances through prepared improvisation
• Degrees of openness through video scores and subsequent performance
• The temporal qualities of sound and video
• Approaching video art theory and the aesthetics of dancefilm as a composer
• Using video to explore non-cochlear sound
Cross-modal perception and video composition
An underlying interest in exploring the notions of hard work and dedication in wrestling with the limitations of the physical body and the human condition, specifically aligned with musical and artistic performance (Arendt, 1998).

The website ( contains many of the scraps, doodles, drafts, dead-ends, hair-raising realisations and completed outputs from a year’s worth of investigation into how I (a musician, composer, performer, tutor and intrigued human being) have approached video in creative ways.

Interest in the Screen and Composition

I was inexperienced in working with video prior to my undergraduate studies at the University of Huddersfield. As part of the Advanced Composition module I composed an experimental video score to facilitate a real-time improvised performance: Questioner, 1863. Another experimental piece from my undergraduate training engaged with an audience’s internal silent reading voice through the projection of text on screen. The experimentation and resulting pieces from that time represent a crucial stage in my development as a composer, with the experience I gained as an undergraduate providing the foundation for the postgraduate research project.

I entered into postgraduate study utterly convinced that continuing to compose video scores for improvised musical interpretation would be the sole focus of the entire project. However, after several months working towards this aim I made the difficult but essential decision to abandon the concept of the score altogether. Aside from a single video score the rest of the output in this portfolio forms an arc of finished video pieces as I realised ways in which I can work with video.

A full explanation of the evolution of the project and later work will be forthcoming but a discussion of the early work and the realisations it conjured are essential.


I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr Bryn Harrison for his unwavering support and encouragement throughout this project; Dr Lisa Colton and Professor Aaron Cassidy for encouraging me to undertake postgraduate study; all staff, fellow researchers, guest speakers and performers associated with CeReNeM; and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan for his scholarship which made this study possible.

I would also like to thank my family for their enduring support and my fiancée, Rachel Williams for her unwavering love and friendship.
© 2016 James A. Fox Contact Me