framegrab from a performance at Illinois Wesleyan University, 5/18/96

Professor Jean Kerr, dancer/choreographer.
Ron Pellegrino, performance-videographer and multimedia director.


Performance-multimedia based on electronic instruments in sound and light is an area I've worked since the 1960s. Over the decades I've integrated whatever affordable technology was emerging and I continue to do it today. I use computer and synthesizer music in conjunction with live acoustic music, live laser animations and laser music visualizations, computer performances of CDROM-based compositions, and performance-videography. The laser animations grow out of three decades of exploring the use of music synthesizers to create visual animations. Some laser animations emerge directly from the music, some are created as interpretations of the music, and some are counterpoints to the music. Performance-videography involves real-time video capturing, digitizing, and processing of musicians, dancers and theatre performers then mixing those video streams on the fly with my precomposed video animations; the local performers are included in the process of selecting those video animations from an extensive collection with a broad expressive range.

Often the Performance-multimedia events are done on college campuses with resident faculty and student artists, composers and performers. Sometimes the music is mine, sometimes theirs, and sometimes a collaboration. The dance and theatre work is always theirs although often, according to my suggestions, it will be modified to work in the context of my performance-videography . The live laser animation is always mine. The video work is usually mine, although more often recently at my request, I'm being provided with locally created videotapes to mix with my live videographic work of the resident performers. More and more often today local video artists are joining me in performance both with their cameras and with their video performance systems.

framegrab from a performance at Illinois Wesleyan University, 5/18/96

Steve Peterson, Illinois Wesleyan University student composer/performer.
Ron Pellegrino, performance-videographer and multimedia director.

Desktop Multimedia, what most people mean by multimedia today, is a relatively new and unevolved form of multimedia. Great fun and great potential but, with very few exceptions, barely out of the canned presentation and cartoon/shoot'em-up stage. On the other hand, current Performance-multimedia has deep historical roots. It undoubtedly evolved from Ritual Multimedia, the original art form integrating music, dance, costume, storytelling, theatre, and feasting that's been with us since time immemorial in the context of religious and celebratory rituals. Singing, chanting, natural/crafted/invented sound instruments, dancing, body painting, painting on cave walls and animal skins, costumes, found and created symbolic objects/sculptures/sets, acting/pantomime/storytelling, light and shadows of dawn/dusk/special times of the year, and fire were most likely found in many combinations in the ceremonies of our most distant ancestors. All of those elements have been with us in one combination or another throughout the historical development of multimedia forms. And they're still with us today. All that's changed is the technology for the electronic arts of sound and light and the styles of expression and production. The fundamental feelings expressed, generated and evoked have probably not changed much at all. The original technology remains intact and possibly even more powerful because we've had eons to practice.

On another section of this site there's a sample program and an additional set of performance-multimedia images from framegrabs of Pellegrino's video work in a University of Wisconsin performance in September of 1999. Thumbnail link sets to these images are found on the Sample Program 1 - Collaborative Event page.

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