Christof Ressi – Composition, Performance Practice

Doctoral Project

Open form in computer game environments for audiovisual artworks

The aim of my research project is the development of computer game environments based on the open-world game principle, which exclusively serve the realisation of interactive audiovisual artworks. The starting point for my research interest is my personal dissatisfaction with the lack of immediate sensory perceptibility of many musical open form concepts - especially for the audience.

My initial thesis is that audiovisual artworks based on a computer game environment, due to their highly interactive and non-linear nature, are particularly suited to realising the idea of Open Form in a form that is comprehensible to the audience in real time.

My central research questions are: How can clearly identifiable aesthetic results be achieved with the help of targeted rule design without providing the performer with concrete playing instructions, for example in the form of a score. How can an overarching artistic identity of the work be guaranteed despite the extensive interpretive freedom given to the performer? How can the spontaneous decision-making activity of the performer(s) be elevated to a performative element and the space of possibilities available to them be made directly tangible to the audience?

The compositional process shifts from the design of concrete sonic and visual phenomena within a timeline to a higher level, namely the design of abstract systems of rules that evoke complex patterns of interaction and emergent behaviour.

I will test, analyse, document, and evaluate musical computer game environments in different settings. The works will be created in close collaboration with performers and in iterative work phases, so that insights gained in the rehearsal process and performance can be fed back into the work. One of the important things here is to record the audience's reaction in relation to their perception of the space of possibility. My evaluation is based on qualitative as well as quantitative methods.

First supervisor: Univ.Prof. Dr. Barbara Lüneburg, ABPU
Second supervisor: Univ.Prof Dr. Martin Kaltenbrunner, Kunstuni Linz
External third supervisor: Univ.Prof Dr. Marko Ciciliani, Kunstuni Graz


Christof Ressi is an Austrian composer, arranger, media artist and software developer. He studied composition and music theory with Gerd Kühr, Dieter Ammann and Alexander Stankovski, jazz composition and arranging with Ed Partyka and computer music with Marko Ciciliani. He works and lives in Graz (Austria). His artistic work spans various genres including contemporary classical art music, jazz, experimental electronics, and media art. He produces music, sound design and video for theater and dance productions and arranges music for all kinds of ensembles and instruments, including big band and orchestra.

Ressi's music has been performed in many countries around the world and his computer music work has been presented at international conferences such as NIME and Linux Audio Conference. He is a recipient of the "Andrzej Dobrowolksi Composition Scholarship of the Province of Styria" (2017) and a laureate of the "SKE Publicity Prize" (2018). In 2020 he was one of the two prize winners of the 8th International "Johann-Joseph-Fux" Opera Composition Competition. He shares an intensive collaborative relationship with clarinettist Szilard Benes. As a duo they perform both audiovisual compositions and improvisations. In 2019, they were invited to New York for a two-week residency (MISE-EN_PLACE Bushwick). Since 2020, they have been supported by "New Austrian Sound of Music," a program of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for international concert activities.

As a software developer, Ressi often helps with the technical implementation of art projects and regularly contributes to open-source projects such as Pure Data and Supercollider. He publishes his own software under open-source licenses.