Visualising Rave Music in Virtual Reality: Symbolic and Interactive Approaches

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


In 2019 the virtual reality experience Cyberdream VR was presented at various events including the Event Two exhibition of computer art held at the Royal College of Art. This short demo for Oculus Gear VR provided a c.5 minute sonic journey, in which the user moves through a series of symbolic environments based on the futuristic techno-utopian or dystopian imagery of 90s rave fliers. These environments accompanied an original soundtrack of rave music and vaporwave, allowing users to enjoy the music whilst feeling as though they are inside synaesthetic virtual spaces related to the symbolic imagery of rave culture. This paper will discuss the subsequent development of this project, which is now being adapted for the Oculus Quest VR headset. Rajmil Fischman’s concept of ‘Music in the Holodeck’; the fictional ’holophonor’ instrument from the TV series Futurama; or the video game Rez Infinite, are among those that suggest paradigms for performing sound and visuals in VR. Drawing upon these ideas, the current iteration of Cyberdream allows the user to trigger ‘sound instruments’ with the Oculus Quest Touch controllers. This is conceived as a means through which the user can ‘paint with sound’ in 3D space, improvising with the music, whilst also generating synaesthetic imagery. The design of these sound instruments presents interesting challenges, in order for sound to be generated in correspondence with visual imagery, where these materials may complement both the music and spatial environments. Drawing on the author’s VJ work, at the macro level of compositional structure, the latest version of the project also seeks ways to provide a more continuous experience analogous to a DJ or VJ set, through blending of music tracks between scenes. This paper will discuss on-going work on this project, advancing the discourse regarding the visualisation of hardcore rave music in virtual reality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEVA London 2020 (Electronic Visualisation and the Arts)
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBritish Computer Society
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventEVA London 2020: Electronic Visualisation and the Arts - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20209 Jul 2020


ConferenceEVA London 2020
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesElectronic Workshops in Computing


  • music visualisation
  • virtual reality
  • rave music
  • sound design
  • VJing
  • visual music


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