The Intersection of EDM and Visual Arts

This past Labor Day weekend, I joined a group of friends on a getaway to New York City for an EDM festival called Electric Zoo 2018. As a budding fan of EDM (electronic dance music), it was my second ever EDM festival and first festival on the East Coast. At EZoo, I was astounded by not only the music itself but also the high-impact visuals that complemented it. In fact, I’ve learned that the highly-engineered combination of intricate stage design, mesmerizing lights, 100-foot LED screens with surreal visuals, fire effects, and perfectly-timed fireworks is a critical part of the EDM experience.

To give you an idea of what the stage visuals are like, here’s a video from Martin Garrix’s set at EZoo 2018:

As you can see, light displays and 3-D graphics are created by VJs (video jockeys) and put together by visual directors to fit the rhythm and mood of each song. Visuals range from enchanting nature imagery and to intense barrages of lasers and psychedelic graphics. In the past decade alone, the quality of engineering behind these visual displays has already evolved from small format videos to the highest-quality videos.

Outside of the stage, flow arts are also a popular art form in the EDM community. One of the most popular flow arts is gloving, which is the use of gloves with LED light fingertips to create patterns and movements to music. At EZoo, quite a few glovers roamed through the crowds, offering people glimpses of their captivating hand movements that were improvised in time to whatever music was playing. Other flow arts that are popular in EDM are orbiting and hooping, which also involve the use of LED lights for captivating visual displays.

Something about the high-energy and at times spiritual nature of EDM seems to inspire visual arts in a way that no other music genre does. EDM has managed to transcend the music itself and become an artistic lifestyle with a cult-following. I’m excited to see where EDM will go in the future and what other visuals it will inspire.

-Beverly Deng

Featured Image: EDM Identity

Video: YouTube

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