A R&D project by The Light Surgeons
“Sound In Pictures” is an audiovisual performing arts experiment exploring the subject and history of "visual music". It will come to life as a new immersive live cinema show created by the UK’s leading audiovisual artists The Light Surgeons through live improvisation of music and the visual arts. It will take its audience on kaleidoscopic journey through the history of experimental animation to explore the connections between sound and image, animation and music with accessibility and an engagement with the deaf community at its heart.

Our aim is to create a new piece of live cinema that is part audiovisual performance and part expanded lecture that will engage a wide range of audiences, bringing both deaf and hearing audiences together to explore audience participation and interaction on a multitude of levels.

"Sound in Pictures" is being developed in collaboration with Live Cinema UK and funded by "Anim18: A Celebration of British Animation" who are programming a range of activities and events across the UK in 2018. Anim18 is led by Film Hub Wales and Chapter (Cardiff) working with the BFI Film Audience Network and its project partners with the support of the BFI, awarding funds from The National Lottery, Arts Council England and the organisations below.

This initial stage of the project is a two day creative animation workshop that will form part of our initial research and development of this larger live performance project that we intend on making in 2019.

The workshop will act as a lab to explore this theme of "visual music" and animation. We are keen to see how the hearing and the deaf community can come together to collaborate and want to facilitate the co-creation of a collection of new visual music works and to encourage the participants to experiment with the relationship between sound and abstract animation. This will also be an opportunity to get a diverse group of 8 - 12 creative people together to learn from each other, explore new practices and form new working relationships. We hope to have a mix of hearing, deaf and partial hearing participants taking part in this process.

The outcome of these workshops will be brought together into two short experimental animations and a showcase event. One film will explore a sound-to-picture relationship where the participants will be invited to create a collaborative work in response to a newly composed piece of music. The other film will explore the opposite idea and the participants will be asked to generate silent animated works that will then be interpreted into music. These resulting films will be showcased in a VR gallery on the Anim18 website and will be premiered at a special event at Rich Mix before the end of the year.

The workshops will be focused around the creation of animation and will be divided into four different units and creative approaches to this, each led by a different creative artist working in this field.

The workshop has been devised by leading UK audiovisual artists The Light Surgeons and will be led by a curated group of creative practitioners who work across the fields of film, animation, music and live performance that will include:


Christopher Thomas Allen : Audio Visual Artist

Chris is a media artist from London and the founder and director of creative studio The Light Surgeons. His work crosses a diverse range of media and formats, from award winning experimental documentary films and animations to the creation of interactive installation projects and the touring of several groundbreaking live cinema performances to art museums and film festivals around the world. He has collaborated with countless leading musical talents, architects, fashion and furniture designers as well as a range of pioneering creative technologists to realise a diverse range of projects in the arts and cultural sectors.

In 2013 he helped establish Live Cinema Foundation with the aim of building a community around more narrative driven audio visual performance art which he has helped to pioneer through his projects at The Light Surgeons. In 2016 he joined forces with a group of creative producers working in the audio visual arts scene to help found Splice Festival, funded by Creative Europe and the Arts Council England and remains part of the festivals core programming and production team.

He continues to forge new creative collaborations and make work that fuses art, technology, and research to explore new approaches to experiences and storytelling in multiple contexts and across the creative disciplines.



Tim Cowie : Audio Visual Artist

Tim Cowie is an audio visual artist based in Bournemouth who specialises in creating audio and visual works for experiential installations and live performances alongside more traditional screen based mediums. He is a long-time collaborator at The Light Surgeons and continues to develop new audio visual performance work with them.

He is also a prolific sound designer, musician and composer who works with electronic audio hardware to sculpt unique and original works for film and experiential art projects. He has worked with many different musicians on countless collaborative works, across the digital, analog and traditional musical forms to create his works. He creates sound design and music for stereo, binaural, surround as well as bespoke multi-channel installations and 360’ VR videos.



Emily Scaife : Animator

Emily is a freelance animation director and visual artist based in London with an MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art. Her ideas often emerge from real-world materials and objects: combining analogue photographic and mark-making techniques to explore rhythms in texture, shape, pattern and colour. Additionally, experimenting with sound using similar processes and playing with synchronicity between audio and visuals.

Her graduation film ‘Attraction’ is showing at festivals internationally and was Finalist for ‘Best Student Film’ at the biennial British Animation Awards in 2018. She is currently developing a live audiovisual performance as part of Flatpack Film Festival’s Waveform residency. Alongside her practice, Emily also writes the curriculum for the Royal College of Art Drawing Studio, preparing session content with visiting lecturers and facilitating the workshops - many of which focus on experimental drawing and approaches to expressing the non-visual.

Emily has also worked as a producer in creative agencies which included planning and facilitating workshops with young people for research and co-creation projects.



Reuben Sutherland : Animator

Reuben is one half of the audiovisual duo called Sculpture who combine animation and experimental music to create mind blowing live performances. They release their work as vinyl picture disc records that also function as animation Zoetropes.

He has developed a unique approach to performing live shows using a collection of these zoetrope animation discs. During a show he mixes between hundreds of different designs using conventional record decks and a live camera feed, taking his audiences on insane psychedelic journeys through his animations that mirror the analog audio experiments of his partner Dan Hayhurst who uses a host of different tape loops and effects.

There is nothing that keeps this dispirit combination of different media in sync, it requires consent manual interference by its human operators. This intense audiovisual improvisation is more akin to trying to organise a library in zero gravity.

Reuben also works as a commercial animator and promo video director through Joyrider Films.


There will be four different, but complementary units in the workshop, each led by a different artist. Two will relate to the "picture-to-sound" approach, and the other two will relate to the "sound-to-picture" approach:


Sound > Picture Unit 1: “Animating sound with movement and free-drawing”
Led by artist Emily Scaife

Participants fluidly express the way the sounds make them feel, moving away from more scientific visualisations of a waveform to generate personal, almost subconscious, responses. Similar to Norman McLaren and Len Lye - but animating onto paper: these large-scale drawings allow the participants to be more expressive than ‘direct-onto-film’ techniques. With our fingers in contact with the paper we will feel the textures of the materials and translate sound and vibration into marks through the movement of our bodies and hands. This unit will encourage a tactile, messy approach using all-black materials including marker pens, oil sticks, charcoal and painting without brushes.


Sound > Picture Unit 2: "Colour, pattern and rhythm in light"
Led by artist Tim Cowie

This session will be inspired by the early work of light artist Thomas Wilfred and his Lumia experiments, as well as the pioneering animators Walter Ruttmann, Jules Engman and Mary Ellen Bute. In this unit we will seek to explore the structure of the existing piece of music through the interplay between multiple sources of projected light, using reflection, refraction and shadow play in order to translate the sounds from the music into colourful patterns and movements.


Picture > Sound Unit 1 : "Image as sound & rhythm : exploring the zoetrope"
Led by artist Reuben Sutherland

Participants in this group will explore the infinite possibilities of working within the limitations of spinning paper and cardboard zoetropes in order to create a series of short, looping animations that will evolve musical structures and be used as the stimulus for a new piece of music. These handmade zoetrope discs will be brought to life through recording them with a camera feed and we will explore how they might be layered and combined to generate different visual music and optical rhythms. This technique has been pioneered by animator Reuben Sutherlands in his group Sculpture ( The emphasis will be on exploring what sound might look like visualised and we hope to generate a lot of different animations very quickly with this hands-on and direct technique.


Picture > Sound Unit 2 : "Image as sound & rhythm working directly onto 16mm film"
Led by artist Christopher Thomas Allen

This session is inspired by the work of animators like Len Lye and Norman McLaren by working directly onto 16mm film with different mark making techniques. We aim to create a collection of graphic and rhythmic experimental animations exploiting the limitations of film that will explore the possibilities of working out of white and into black to create different visual representations of musical structures. This Unit will also explore the possibilities of creating sound through mark making in the optical track on 16mm film.


Participants will be given a brief introduced to each of these approaches but are asked to choose one of the units to focus on over the two days of the workshop.

The workshop will run from 10am - 6pm on the 27th & 28th of October 2018 at Stour Space in Hackney Wick, East London.

Stour Space is a socially minded organisation offering exhibition, performance, and studio space for the development of creative enterprises based in Hackney Wick in East London. They are devoted to the promotion and production of art and design, performance and innovative business, working in collaboration with many local enterprises, residents, artists, and committees.

Nearest public transport links:

By Train: Hackney Wick Station or Stratford International
By Bus: 276, 339, 488, 8

The workshop days are unpaid for participants but all attendees will get to take part in an intensive two days of playful, free and expression with four leading creative practitioners. During the workshops you will be encouraged to be experimental and to explore the possibilities of one of the animation approaches. Work you create during the workshop will be combined with other material generated by the whole creative team and combined to form a new collaborative animated experimental short film, co-created with The Light Surgeons and the other participating artists.

Everyone involved will get A FREE LUNCH each day at the amazing canal side cafe at Stour Space.


If you are interested in taking part in this workshop YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO COMMIT TO BOTH DAYS ON THE 26th & 27th OF OCTOBER. We need people who can come for the duration and get stuck in basically.

If this is the case - PLEASE PROCEED TO THE NEXT SECTION by clicking NEXT below and fill out the questions.

Note - All submissions must be received no later than 5pm on the 5th of October 2018 to be eligible.

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