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 "There is nothing more actual than light in the dark."
 M. Chekalin

“Electronic Music & Light Graphic Dynamics Experimental Studio” of  Mikhail Chekalin’s stands as an anticipant of a future mode of aesthetic production, that is a laser light show art form: electricity sublime flow to light.

The Electronic Music & Light Graphics Studio’s activity spanned practically the whole period of the 80s; about one hundred performances has been given over the period; and, as the composer, famously called “the ambient genius of Russia’s”, puts it, supplied “a solution that allowed electronic music to recover a scenic medium, or stage space” as it is studio produced  music, primarily.  

As an art expert A. Florkovskaya of Arts Academy of Russia’s point out, “from the very beginning of his artistic career Chekalin was concerned not only with his compositions’ performance in concerts but also with producing an ambience which is given rise by incorporating elements of an “alien nature” – graphics, ready-mades, light and dynamics into the sound medium emerging from music-making. The composer himself is a creator of decorative genre-versatile art works grouping the abstract with the figurative freely” (cit. from “Poruganie Patsifica, or Multigenre Art Forms from Malaya Gruzinskaya Ulitsa”).

The light & music performance of  Audio-Vision is making use of an exclusive lightdynamics “color organ” unit designed by S. Dorokhin (an industrial artist) and D. Chekalin (a physicist-optician, Mikhail’s brother); of multigun slide-projector apparatus in split-screen mode; and of cine-videoprojection. By these means the producing of elaborate visual effects is made possible: arabesque playing with geometric constructs as well as rainbow light volumetric forms suspended in air like holograms.

The diaprojected slides proper have been produced by Mikhail Chekalin and his associates by their own hands also in his atelier. Each original slide has been made with the use of either combination shot technique and/or special optical extensions or with the use of body-art elements; sometimes a shot might be taken even of an object initially designed and constructed or drawn for this very purpose.

All image are obtained “purely” by optical means  (without recurring neither to computer technologies for image processing, electronic airbrushing nor to hand retouching) by force of simultaneous projection upon the screen surface of several (2 up to 4) initial slides and images (light forms) from the color organ of unique design.

Projected images, superimposing upon each other, interplay and produce kinematic installation effect, in accord with musical scores and performance manager design.

Audio-Vision sophisticated machineries rendered it possible for the agogue[agōgē, in Greece] nuancé to be fully made use of – from a certain line (here one is reminded of a “line drawn with stress” notion out of Kandinsky’s aesthetics) or light spot’s subtle penetration or bleed-through to intense chord fusion of light with slide- and videoprojection means.

This synaesthesia as an expression of “a far-reaching kinship between separate spheres of art” (Kandinsky) has been pointed out by Keyboard (June, 1988), mentioning “a Kandinsky-style line and color arrangement” while they refered to the music of the composer.

In particular, an application of slides and slide-projectors while presents a possibility of “giving life” to a photographic still and makes spectacle its metamorphosis, makes it also possible, unlike cinema,  to preserve a self-validity of each separate view.

Figuring as photographic pictures, even though these are but fragments, cut out of a certain greater whole, a performance evolving in time and in compliance with its intricate dynamic laws, more often than not these bits and pieces are known to acquire aesthetically significant shades of meaning which are quite different or altogether new, like it happens with a phrase snatched out of context...

In plain speaking, this is what underlays a frequently cited reference of keyboardists’ cult magazine Keyboard to Mikhail Chekalin’s Experimental Studio of Electronic Music and Light Graphic Dynamics as a direct successor to Scryabin’s Studio.

By the end of the 80s for a brief span of time the Studio acquired official status; soon, however, they have been robbed of the workshop space proper, it has been flooded with boiling water bursting out of steam-heating pipes; which played right into new city masters’ hands...

The Audio-Vision of Chekalin’s made their last appearance during musical Festival “The Alternative”at Moscow Artists’ House in 1993.

 Read more  ГИТИС  Almanakh #3 2015



Abstract: The article is devoted to the history of Moscow unofficial art that is yet to be explored: the coming-into-being of an experimental light and audio-visual studio AKVIO by Mikhail Chekalin (1979—1993, M. Chekalin, D. Chekalin, S. Dorokhin, M.Kakushkin). Their projects embodied the integral understanding of an artistic process, closely related to ambient and psychoedelic art. This approach brightly represents the cultural context of the 1970—1980’s and is closely connected to the experiments with the synthesis of art earlier in the1920’s when the avant-garde epoch and the ideas of Russian cosmism manifested themselves.

Key words: unofficial art, 1980’s, electronic music, light-show, audiovisual projects, synthesis, ambient art, psychedelic art, Russian cosmism.

A. Florkovskaya, Surikov Moscow State Academic Art Institute Moscow, Russia



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