The history of Genius Loci Weimar began 8 years ago, in 2012, when, as part of various regional development initiatives, we were looking for a concept that could combine modern media and historical heritage.
This is how the Genius Loci Weimar Festival came into being, initially on a smaller scale, which has since developed into an event with up to 50,000 visitors annually. The concept has always been to deal with the “spirit of the place” and its individual history, the “Genius Loci”.
As already mentioned, the “Genius Loci” is the focus of our artistic works. It is therefore also the goal to discuss history and to stimulate historical-cultural reflection, which certainly also has political and social aspects.
Another goal is to create and develop our own format, a brand that can provide a framework for the production of artistic works in this field.
The AV media are to be further established as an art form and artistic format and to move away from the “avant-garde” or even “nerd corner”, in which they are still often located. To emphasize their potential as an aesthetic direction with different artistic styles and tastes is the goal of Genius Loci Weimar.
Thus, in addition to very prominent buildings such as the National Theatre or the Herderkirche in the city centre, the Ilmpark and a squatted house in Gerberstraße have already been in the spotlight.
Especially at controverse locations, such as Gerberstraße 3, exciting exchanges can arise: There, the “bourgeoisie” became observer of the usually sceptically eyed façade of the squatted house, the inhabitants of the house project became hosts at the same time – also for the otherwise avoided “establishment”. An exciting situation for everyone, which can only arise during a live event and on-site.
However, in any case, reflection is always encouraged: exchange and examination of past times and other lifestyles. The buildings also appear in new contexts, the library was once filled with fictitious visions or the theatre was shown as an important place of democracy. The selection and the type of performance should always have a very specific effect.
The fact that the concept is sustainable can be seen from the fact that other projection festivals are following up, launching similar strategies or even asking for a transferable concept.
In the end, the awareness for places and cities is always sensitized by the unique, site-specific spectacles.
The audiovisual event starts already in spring with the publication of our Open Call and the announcement of the three competition buildings. A prize money of 15.000 Euro per building is awarded and we receive applications with artistic projects from all over the world during the competition period.
At the end of the competition, the applications will be judged by a jury of experts, while the public will also be able to vote at this early stage to decide who will perform their work in late summer.
During the past eight festival editions, a wide range of artistic styles were chosen as competition winners. Exciting, for example, was last year’s masterfully implemented, seemingly interactive audiovisual performance by Jonas Denzel on the façade of the newly opened Bauhaus Museum in Weimar.
Of 2016, the combination of live performance and video projection on a surface of water from Dieselqueen is also remembered.
Or the already mentioned mapping with the title “Grain Metal Punk” by VJZARIA on the façade of the squatted house in Gerberstraße.
Genius Loci Weimar continues to believe in the presence and magic of live events. We continue to believe in video mapping as a unique, ephemeral and sensual event, accompanied by overwhelming sound and an immense size that can be experienced collectively in public space. This is why we continue to focus on the live event on-site.
Genius Loci Weimar aims to further extend its constant growth path of recent years. As a festival and brand, GLW will continue to grow in breadth, but also in depth.
In the middle and long term, closer cooperation with universities is also conceivable, for example in the form of the creation of a new institute or similar. However, the core will always be the video and its connection to the historical heritage of the city!
Angefangen hat die Geschichte von Genius Loci Weimar bereits vor 8 Jahren, im Jahr 2012. Im Rahmen verschiedener Initiativen zur Regionalentwicklung suchten wir nach einem Konzept, das es schafft, moderne Medien und historisches Erbe miteinander zu verbinden. Dabei entstand das Genius Loci Weimar Festival, zunächst in kleinerem Umfang, das sich inzwischen zu einer Veranstaltung mit bis zu 50.000 Besucher*innen jährlich entwickelt hat. Das Konzept war dabei schon immer die Auseinandersetzung mit dem „Geist des Ortes“ und seiner individuellen Geschichte, dem „Genius Loci“ eben.
Wir möchten mit GLW mehre Dinge erreichen: Immer präsent ist natürlich das Ziel, ästhetisch ansprechende und hochwertige Kunstwerke in Weimar zur Aufführung zu bringen. Dazu kommt aber auch der Anspruch, eine positive Öffentlichkeit zu schaffen und mit dem Festival milieu- und altersübergreifend Zuschauer*innen anzusprechen.
Wie schon eben gesagt steht der „Genius Loci“ im Mittelpunkt unserer künstlerischen Arbeiten. Es ist also auch Ziel, Geschichte zu thematisieren und zu einer historisch-kulturellen Reflexion anzuregen, die durchaus auch politische und gesellschaftliche Facetten in sich trägt.
Ein weiteres Ziel ist das Erschaffen und Weiterentwickeln eines eigenen Formats, einer Marke, die der Produktion von künstlerischen Arbeiten in diesem Bereich einen Rahmen geben kann.
Die Videomapping-Szene ist noch recht jung. Sichtbarkeit, Kommunikation und Vernetzung sind also auch wichtige Anliegen unseres Festivals, insbesondere durch die Veranstaltungsteile TALK, CLUB und LAB. Dort, im LAB, findet auch verstärkt die Nachwuchsförderung statt. Die AV-Medien sollen als Kunstform und als künstlerisches Format noch weiter etabliert werden und heraus aus der „Avantgarde-“ oder sogar „Nerd-Ecke“, in der sie noch teilweise verortet werden. Ihr Potenzial als eine ästhetische Richtung mit unterschiedlichen künstlerischen Stilen und Geschmacksrichtungen herauszustellen, ist Ziel von Genius Loci Weima
Innerhalb der Stadt findet dank des Festivals jedes Jahr aufs Neue ein erheblicher Austausch auf mehreren Ebenen statt. Die Weimarer*innen sind inzwischen zu richtigen „Fans“ des Festivals und seiner Formate geworden und erwarten gespannt, welche neuen Orte jedes Jahr bespielt und auf neue Weise erfahren werden können.
So war neben sehr prominenten Gebäuden wie dem Nationaltheater oder der Herderkirche in der Innenstadt auch schon der Ilmpark und ein besetztes Haus in der Gerberstraße im Rampenlicht.
Gerade an kontroversen Orten, wie beispielsweise der Gerberstraße 3, können spannende Begegnungen entstehen: Das „Bürgertum“ wurde dort zum Betrachter der sonst so skeptisch beäugten Fassade des besetzten Hauses, die Bewohnerinnen des Hausprojekts wurden gleichzeitig zu Gastgeberinnen – auch für das sonst gemiedene „Establishment“. Eine spannende Situation für alle, die so nur im Moment eines Live-Events vor Ort entstehen kann.
Auf jeden Fall wird aber immer zur Reflexion angeregt: Austausch und Auseinandersetzung mit vergangenen Zeiten und anderen Lebenswelten. Auch die Gebäude treten in neuen Kontexten auf, die Bibliothek wurde einmal mit fiktiven Gebäudevisionen bespielt oder das Theater als Ort der Demokratie thematisiert. Die Auswahl und die Art der Bespielung sollen dabei immer eine ganz bestimmte Wirkung erzielen.
Dass das Konzept trägt, sieht man auch daran, dass andere Projektionsfestivals nachlegen und ähnliche Konzepte an den Start bringen oder sogar nach einem übertragbaren Konzept anfragen.
Letztlich wird immer das Bewusstsein für Orte und Städte durch die einmaligen, ortsgebundenen Spektakel sensibilisiert.
Das Festival beginnt bereits im Frühjahr mit der Veröffentlichung unseres Open Calls und der Bekanntgabe der drei Wettbewerbsgebäude. Pro Gebäude ist ein Preisgeld von 15.000 Euro ausgelobt und uns erreichen im Wettbewerbszeitraum Bewerbungen mit künstlerischen Projekten aus der ganzen Welt ein.
Nach Ende werden die Bewerbungen zum einen von einer Expert*innenjury beurteilt, und zum anderen kann auch das Publikum bereits an dieser frühen Stelle mit Hilfe des Public Votes mitbestimmen, wer im Spätsommer seinen Wettbewerbsbeitrag zur Aufführung bringen wird.
Während der vergangenen acht Festivaleditionen konnte eine große Bandbreite an künstlerischen Stilen als Wettbewerbssieger*innen gekürt werden. Spannend war zum Beispiel im letzten Jahr die gekonnt umgesetzte, scheinbar interaktive, audiovisuelle Performance von Jonas Denzel auf der Fassade des neu eröffneten Bauhaus-Museums in Weimar.
Aus 2016 ist aber auch die Kombination aus Live-Performance und Video-Projektion auf eine Wasserfläche von Dieselqueen in Erinnerung geblieben.
Oder das schon angesprochene Mapping mit dem Titel „Grain Metal Punk“ von VJZARIA an der Fassade des besetzten Hauses in der Gerberstraße.
Genius Loci Weimar glaubt auch weiterhin an die Präsenz und die Magie des Live-Events. An das Videomapping als einmaliges, vergängliches und sinnliches Ereignis, begleitet von überwältigendem Sound und einer immensen Größe, das kollektiv im Stadtraum erfahren werden kann. Deshalb fokussieren wir uns auch weiterhin auf die Live-Veranstaltung vor Ort.
Genius Loci Weimar will seinen konstanten Wachstumspfad der letzten Jahre weiter ausbauen. Als Festival und Marke soll weiter in die Breite, aber auch in die Tiefe gewachsen werden. Die reflektiven Formate wie etwa der noch recht neue TALK sollen auch weiterhin ausgebaut und verfeinert werden. Auch die AV-Hybride als Bühnenformat, wie beim AV-KINO in den letzten Jahren schon geschehen, soll noch weiter verfeinert werden.
Mittel- und Langfristig ist aber auch eine engere Kooperation mit Hochschulen, etwa in Form der Schaffung eines eigenen Instituts oder ähnliches denkbar
Kern wird aber immer das Video und seine Verknüpfung mit dem historischen Erbe der Stadt bleiben!
Hi guys! Thank you for your questions and your interest in my work. Let’s get started! Here my main influences:
In the 80s: whilst growing up in France, I was very inspired by the vast amount of Japanese anime on TV, especially the Cobra series (funny that it was just on kids TV back then in France, where it would be rated 12 or 15 here in UK now) and films like Videodrome, Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead 2, 2001, The Thing, Altered States, Blazing Saddles, Monty Python films and such like.
I was massively into MTV’s Aeon Flux series and non verbal films like Baraka, Koyananskatsti, Atlantis and such like. The Day Today / Brass eye have been quite important as well in terms of absurdity and “OTT-ness”, especially the Brass eye Infographics. Then in late 90’s & early 00s once I moved to London I was massively into Ryoji Ikeda / Dumb Type / Semi-conductor Films / Ukawa.
In terms of key experiences, I’d say it was seeing Daft Punk live multiple times in the mid 90’s & their Audiovisual show in the 1997 tour. That was definitely the main experiences that pushed me to do what I do in the audiovisual world.
It was like a “smack in the face”. So bold, minimal and sync-ed to the music, it totally blew me away. I remember thinking back then, I wanted to blow people away in the same way someday.
Good question, that I’m not sure how to answer as I don’t really think about it in that way. I’d say I very much differentiate my live & studio work. To me, my live visuals are technically made in similar ways to how my friends make music.
I position myself in the same category as lighting/laser designers, in a sense that I’m there merely complementing/enhancing the audio experience. As in my studio work I very much try to recreate the kinda vibe of an anime intro or 80s music video, which in my opinion were far more entertaining. For me, it’s all about visual impact and entertaining the audience.
This is a tricky question for me, as I find it hard to categorize anything I see on my computer screen or at a party as art. For me it’s more like graphics or entertainment. Call me old fashioned but for it to be Art is has to be in an art context (whatever that is), and as my work isn’t in galleries or such like (yet) i don’t really consider myself as an artist.
Actually I find the words art/artists are used way too sparingly in this day and age, so I’m not really sure as to where I fit in all this. I’d rather not think about it and just carry on doing my thing & let other people define me as they see fit…
I’m very much into specific/custom made/location-based designs. My ideas tend to be finding a way to best fit the “where” and “what”. My concepts are very driven by discussions (or lack of) with the artist/clients, which is why my work tends to vary in style (or quality, if the client/artist has too little input or dictates too much)
Firstly I figure the possibilities and limitations and work within those boundaries, then I discuss with artist/client to figure a rough direction to aim for, it then it generally snowballs from there.
I generally try to deliver what the artist/client & target audience wants, but not necessarily what they expect, so I tend to avoid the obvious options.
I don’t think I approach a project that differently depending on what genre of music it is. I just try and do whatever feels right for that category of music, BUT the workflow is vastly different depending of the type of artists they are.
Some artist are way more approachable than others regardless their music genres and when I can bounce ideas back and forth with them that is when I can go deep into what they truly want and get the best results. I can’t say the same when there’s a sea of management/label/producers between me and the artist.
It’s fair to the results are far more fruitful when I work with artists who don’t take themselves too seriously as I’m not a yes-man nor my specialty is making people like prim & proper.
Time in quarantine seems to have developed into a huge focus on creative minds, with more online festivals and artistic projects than you can shake a stick at. At Audiovisual City, we’ve been taking advantage of the time to network with artists and discover more projects than ever. We got in touch with Miguel and Rodrigo AKA Boris Chimp 504 through the audiovisual network #supportvisualists, and were particularly keen to learn more about their experiences, experimentations and creations during the quarantine so far…
1. You guys are based in Portugal. How is the situation there at the moment and how have you been affected professionally, as audiovisual artists?
We had some shows and projects cancelled or postponed, not only with Boris Chimp 504 as with other parallel projects. In the case of Boris Chimp 504 we started presenting a new AV Show – Vanishing Quasars – last September and had some nice shows in the end of 2019 Electro Alternative (Toulouse), Fotonica (Roma), Criatek (Aveiro), 948 Merkatua (Pamplona) and we were hoping to tour the show around in 2020. But now with these situation, everything is on standby, and we are unsure about when we’ll be able to get back on stage.
R: In my particular case I also teach at the university (and are running the classes on videoconference), so I am able to have a fixed income. But many Portuguese artists/technicians/AV/…. who work as freelancers or project based in the cultural, events, music and AV scene are struggling as everything has stopped right now, and many are left with zero income for an unpredictable amount of time.
M: Luckily I have some savings (ah ah) and the government gives some financial help to “independent workers” [autónomos in Spanish] but I’m still working (at a much lower rhythm) on projects that hopefully will happen when this situation ends.
2. As an audiovisual collective, you usually collaborate together in a physical space. How has your way of working changed in the current situation?
In our case, our way of working has not changed much, as we live in different cities (Porto, Faro). So working remotely is our normal way of working: making video calls, changing emails with ideas, sending audio/video files back and forth, etc… The project started when we were both living in Barcelona, and then we were working in the same physical space and developed some nice working and communication skills between us. When eventually we came back to our hometowns, we managed to change that on a virtual basis, although we frequently travel between Faro and Porto, and also so every time we have any kind of presentation we use that time fully for rehearsing, test stuff, etc… Right now it looks like we won’t be travelling soon, so this gives us more time to work on audiovisual content, than when we are touring.
3. What things have you learned as a result of the quarantine and what would be your message to other AV artists around the world about how to manage the situation in order to prepare for the future?
R: In the beginning I thought that I would be super-productive during these days, and spend days coding and creating visuals, learning new stuff, but in fact it is super difficult to concentrate, as I am constantly checking the Covid19-news social media etc. So my artistic productivity is really low. Also I ended spending even more time in front of the computer, which is not good, as after some hours I start to get dizzy, tired and without patience to create anything. On the other hand I have been really enjoying cooking, speeding time in the kitchen and try new dishes (maybe because I am not looking at screens.). So my advices would be: low your productivity expectations, avoid check the news all the time (maybe only 1 time a day to keep track of the situation). And manage your screen time, avoid spend all day in front of the computer.
M: In my case I have a small toddler home to keep me busy, so soon I realised it would be much more difficult to work (at home) than before. After accepting the facts, I work with a different pace now, enjoy time with my family and try to watch the minimum news possible about Covid-19. I’m still aware and not disconnected of all around but I think it’s wise to try to keep a “safety distance” from getting overwhelmed. I would say that more than trying this moment to work more (and get stressed about it), maybe this is a time to slow down and accept it. Sooner or later we’ll all gonna go back to crazy schedules so we better enjoy while we can.
To find out more about Boris Chimp 504, see their artist page
These days AV artists are hiding out all over the place, this time curiosity didn’t kill the cat, as I stumbled upon the work of Cinema.AV on Instagram. it’s amazing where a hashtag can take you… #videosynth. I was keen to find out how someone so visually analog ends up that way, and how they manage in an ever expanding digital world (at the time of writing more so than ever).
1.Tell us about your first ever live gig? When was it and how did it go?
For years, I used to play a kind of ambient, soundscape style of music, and for live performance, I would put whatever found vhs tape behind me for visuals. Often without a screen. It often just turned into lighting for my performance, instead of clearcut visuals.
Fast-forward to a couple years later, in summer 2015, where I started buying jvc video mixers, archer and vidicraft boxes. It was here where I took it upon myself to do visuals for a show I had booked. Sadly, I didn’t realize, the projector couldn’t handle the distorted signals I was throwing at it. Luckily though, someone at the last moment, let me borrow theirs. It was total godsend. The result was this hyper-distorted cross between national geographic videotapes. It worked for the more abstract, psychedelia I had booked for the evening,
Later down the line, I found the need for time base correctors in live performance, and mixers equipped with such. To evenly blend, rather an abruptly with one of those RCA Y splitter cables turned on end. Which is actually the same as the classic Klomp dirty mixer. It was all stuff I got for free, or nearly no money. Never top of the line. Always the most difficult, least practical solutions. But the result was always unique to the moment, to the performance; endlessly fleeting.
2.We discovered your work on Instagram. How do you usually connect with the AV community online? Does social media play a big role for you?
Strangely, yeah. I hardly ever go out locally, unless of course I’m playing a show. So beyond that setting, you’ll never find me in the wild. Even before this quarantine action, I was a total homebody. Staying in whenever possible to work on art and infinitely explore the machines. So having access to social media platforms is actually key to the whole system. I can actively gauge what pieces people actually like, what ideas stick and in turn, get shared with a larger audience.
Its those posts that snowball into bigger and better gigs. As the recognition on a global scale is significantly more gratifying than just the local efforts I receive so often. In fact, for the better part of 2019, I was very busy with live video work. Having nearly no time off, I accepted this as a lifestyle, rather than just hobby. And in the social media zone, I’ve been able to publicly beta-test things like the Erogenous Tones Structure module, Phil Baljeu’s custom vector graphics system and as of late Andrei Jay’s latest raspberry pi video synth and feedback algorithms as hardware devices. The curiosity the results generated have in turn, sold modules and made the manufactures money to sustain their efforts.
…having access to social media platforms is actually key to the whole system. I can actively gauge what pieces people actually like, what ideas stick and in turn, get shared with a larger audience.
To be fair though, I’m not sure how much of this actually real. If it’s all made up, or the reactions are fabricated. It’s a fine silver-lining we’re all walking along. One day, a post could generate hundreds of interactions, while the next day, nothing. I think alot of that could actually be the option for folks to drift between realities, between the physical and the cyberspace. It’s in this cyberspace, that I do often connect with other artists, say for example my bud Konopka and has online video painting series. To watch him create something entirely from scratch, in real time, thousands of miles away is a true head-spin if you think about it. But not even 5 years ago would have been possible.
3. It’s fascinating to how analog and digital worlds inspire AV artists. What’s your take on the two and how do you find working with analog systems for live visuals?
Truly. When I first got started, it was all analog, all found devices. Though in time, I’ve found the whole LZX modular zone, which started analog and now has drifted into this wild digital hardware dimension that has opened up all kinds doors. The obvious attraction to the large analog modular is the physicality and pure intuitive nature of the whole thing. As in a live setting, there is nothing more fun and unpredictable than a hand-wired mess of cables and devices to create this ever-fleeting dialogue, never again to be replicated. For ambient, for house, for techno and literally everything in between, there’s this infinite body that just works, and often never crashes or fails.
If anything, it’s always the digital component that freezes or fails first. I’ve done shows with computer artists that for some reason or another, who just can’t make it work that particular night.
If anything, it’s always the digital component that freezes or fails first. I’ve done shows with computer artists that for some reason or another, who just can’t make it work that particular night. So just step in and end up taking over the evening with my system. However, I’ve had my fair share of venues tell me their systems are HDMI only. So learned to convert the analog composite outputs of the modular to the HDMI with aid of things like Ambery converters and scalers, Extron scalers, and even the silly Blackmagic shuttle, that has it’s own share of issues. It wasn’t until last summer that I realized the Roland V4-EX had a very effective means of conversion and scaling to HDMI, VGA, and back down again. The result was a total game-changer. So I sold my other mixers, and devices to scale up to HDMI and hadn’t looked back. This meant I could seamlessly work with digital projection systems and streaming processes. And from the get-go, it’s been used in every performance effort since. It’s even let me collaborate with both digital and analog artists alike. To fade and key between all manner of artists and ideas.
So little things like that make the whole system go, which leads me into the question…
4.What’s your basic setup when do performance live AV shows? (If you have one)
I am constantly pushing myself as an artist. So every year or so, I’ll experience this major creative shift around winter time, when my job at the photo lab temporarily shutters for winter break on campus. It is is then where I have about a month to chill and regroup my mind. This generally means some new gear enters the studio, and in turn the dirty warehouses they get thrown into for live work.
In 2019, I saw my modular system grow from a single 6U, two row case that could fly on any airline, to a larger 12U, four row system, that for the majority, made it’s way into every gig. In tandem with the V4-EX, the two were all I needed to do 8-10 hours of a rave whatever else I was getting booked for. However, the few time I flew out for one-offs, I brought it back down to 6U. Which was a lot of fun and lent itself to collaboration with other artists. It was in this time though, away from gigs and rather chill moments at the lab, where I began to experiment with the virtual dimension of VSynth, the Max/Msp visual extension. The result was very reminiscent of my larger modular system. Though at the time, my computer could only handle small patches. Anything big would see my computer begin to overheat and grind to a halt.
This got me looking at computers, seriously. As a video generation and manipulation tool, much in the same way the dedicated hardware was, but a larger, more sophisticated, and recallable level. It was months of research and a very generous donation within the family that lead me onto a gaming-oriented laptop, complete with a dedicated graphics card, that in it’s day was considered high-spec, and miles beyond my aging macbook. From the moment I lifted open the box and got it booted, I went straight into complex Max patches and dense 3D structures with the aid of Resolume Arena. When I realized I could save, and recall every motion, I started plotting how to gig with it. To layer to pieces together and to treat Resolume as a video sampler of my analog devices. What began to happen was a meshing of dimensions. No longer was one any better than the other. They were one of the same. It was with this entry that live performance physically became less stressful and far more manageable. No longer did have to carry this unwieldy modular system on a train or a bus. I could now discreetly carry the common laptop computer, just as everyone else.
Setting up and breaking down, with the projector, is a two cable, two power supply motion. So quick and so light. With the aid of a midi controller, all the tactility remains, and nothing changes. The digital results do look incredible though. I cannot deny that. No matter what I have though, I make the best of all of it. For touring, in 2020, my setup is just that. I did some dates with Steve Hauschildt and Telefon Tel Aviv across Texas and the process was so smooth. Same for the brief efforts with LLORA and BATHHOUSE, just weeks ago. So much less to think about, all with the same manipulations and motions.
5. What would be your dream AV gig?
Currently speaking, the dream is still to tour, to travel and do large scale art installations with my video work. I had things lined up, but those have all fallen in favor of the current pandemic. But that’s honestly not going to hold anyone for long. These things will all still happen, just not soon as I had anticipated. I was truthfully hoping to break into the festival dimension; Mutek, Movement, Sonar, Aurora, as from a live scale, that feels like the next big move, amidst touring through the theaters and dedicated art spaces. I’ve had tastes of all those, but like anyone serious about their craft, I want to further and really make a name for myself, as truly, I don’t know what else to do.
Find out more about Cinema.AV on his artist page
The post We pick the brains of Cinema.AV on his beautiful video synth work appeared first on Audiovisualcity.
I have been exceptionally lucky to be able to pick Overlap’s Michael Denton’s brains with all of those nitty gritty questions about their career that every visual artist wonders about. How did they get to be where they are? What was the VJ scene like in the nineties? How is their relationship with technology and whose work inspires them?
Overlap are true veterans and represent original artists on the audiovisual live performance scene, not only have they experienced more changes in performance technology than I’ve had hot dinners, they’ve been up there with some of the most popular artists of our time, performing with the likes of Chemical Brothers and have animated artwork by Damien Hirst.
You have presented your work in some of the most prestigious international galleries around the world, including the Pompidou in Paris, Tate Modern, and the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as done a VJ set with the Chemical Brothers. What is the project that you are most proud of?
Remixing and VJing The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour film for its cinema première at the South Bank with Noise of Art was a highlight.
We’re pleased with the editions on SeditionArt. They incorporate a lot of ideas from the past and are also feeding into some future shows. Musically, Greylight Green is something that works when you’re in the right mood. As these recent editions highlight, we’ve always been at the more arty end of the Vjing/music industry, and the more musical end of the art world. The music industry and the fine art worlds attribute value in such different ways. But twenty years ago, we were lucky to stumble into a certain era of EDM culture, it was like the early days of flying’s uncharted freedoms. In Turnmills nightclub in Holborn, I remember one of the guys from Reality Check, (the house VJ and AV team, for nights, including The Gallery and Trade etc), saying they showed art to thousands of clubbers every week – and they did. Hopefully for an audience the circling and repeating imagery of VJ-ing done well can create a kind of memory image burn effect – they go home with a ‘memory painting’
Fine art galleries and big projects have not necessarily been the most rewarding – the really interesting moment for us was being at clubs and festivals with a large amount of freedom, developing a style of imagery and delivery without record companies and DJ Managers controlling what we did. It was genuinely creative and new, yet fulfilling a need. This for any artist is a luxury.
Early on we’d be flown out to Creamfields in Andalucia with Microchunk, or wherever, and literally be immediately on stage with a 50k audience and the DJ, no pre planning or rehearsing, ” 5 mins guys”, maybe an artist logo at the beginning, then mix.
As Overlap you have experimented with the majority of the audiovisual art formats. Is there one in particular that you enjoy?
Long VJ sets are a nice journey, in medium sized venues with a few different feeds going into multiple screens and low lighting. AV sets are always a bit more stressy – as doing the visual/music/sound for maybe 40 mins, feels more contrived/pre planned and edgy. Multi screens can make things a lot more architectural/sculptural, with 3d projections on objects etc, and simpler more graphic imagery. So a mixture of graphic and more pictorial screens is a nice balance. Again we tend towards a more art bias, whereas a lot of club imagery is a fairly bombastic extension of the lighting show – think rising chevrons. Equally a very simple installation/projection on a gallery wall can be really satisfying. For AV sets, good acoustics and smaller venues suit the minimal music we make.
I’m sure you have collaborated and met with many of the world’s most famous audiovisual and new media artists on the scene. Who particularly inspires you?
Loads of things inspire me, from motorcycling to design and architecture. More recently though works/gigs by Ryoichi Kurokawa, Fuse, some of the things AntiVJ have done, Davide Quayola. Nils Frahm, Biosphere, through to more obscure music form France Jobin to gallery based artist like Mat Collishaw. But also painters like Nigel Cooke, with his circuitous multi picture planes that create a pictorial balance that your eye follows round and around – comparable to good VJ mixing. We were lucky to be part of a talented group of VJs represented by Microchunk in our VJing hey day – unique underground artists. I think we all inspired and motivated each other to push further artistically. Lady Pat and Grand Dame are two of Anna’s favourite, similarly self taught, audiovisual artists.
The art of VJing is a relatively new term for the art of live video mixing. When did you first become aware of the term and how has it changed for you over the years?
Firstly it was the definitive move away from the pop video, which had been: point camera at people singing the song, illustrate/narrative/advertise – ie. TV. So the culture of EDM remixing, had the authority to legitimize its visual equivalent and create the context for VJing. It’s a term I’m not overly fond of, but it does put you on the stage side of technician, ie you make and shape content – not to demean the amazing art, that is light mixing, house sound, etc. VJ content is a form of visual serialism, like music about patterns, removing the asymmetry of drama, its infinitely more complex in its potential multi layer/screen applications than linear media, maybe more so than music.
When I was at Chelsea art school, there was Glitch (first time around, VHS crash editing, late 80’s), video artist lecturers talked derogatorily of ‘club wallpaper’,meaning all things shallow. But I was interested in this form, that had a use and the public liked – unlike so much video art of the era.
The first time I got paid to show images in a bar – also in Holborn, was in 1985. The fee, one bottle of wine.
The first time I thought about something like VJing was as a very young kid, around the time the Beatles released The White album, in the back of my dad’s car one evening, driving along country roads in Dorset and thinking about ‘films’ that would be like the trees sliding past the windows. Non narrative loop structures – I certainly didn’t know what narrative meant at the time, but I did have this strange certainty of there being a future for this sensory/sensual idea. The first time I got paid to show images in a bar – also in Holborn, was in 1985. The fee, one bottle of wine. Then I showed an AV Album work called Open at Megatripolis, Heaven, Charing Cross around 1994. I met Anna in the late nineties we got invited to do stuff at the ICA and bars in Shoreditch etc. We formed Overlap and she learned a lot of the Adobe programmes very fast and we started to get paid to VJ, both loving the visual depth, luminosity and surprises that multilayering and keying threw up.
How would you define the difference between an AV set and a VJ set? Could you describe one of your set ups to us?
People I know who travel the world for major DJ acts are operating in a different world from small AV acts. There’s’ a big difference between doing multi screen VJing, with pre programmed triggered clips via midi, osc etc and mixing live on the fly, by feel. Ben Francis who does visuals for Calvin Harris, for example is taking code with BPM info etc, from the CDJ’s, but is also live mixing. Keeping the audio and imagery separate still seems to be an industry standard. The music driving the imagery, which makes sense in some ways, but is also strangely anachronistic. When we do an AV set we have married imagery to 8 bar loops, some elements are locked with time code if we’re using a separate music source, CDJ’s etc and some not, to make it more organic. Most AV performers drive Resolume with Ableton or code, or at least lock them. Unusually, we use Resolume a lot for sound.
AV shows can be done in so many ways. In the end it seems the content and the feel of what you’re doing is probably more important than how you’re doing it. How much do you want to do live – how much does the audience care how dexterous you are? DJ’s spend a lot of time dramatically illustrating that they’re turning a mixer knob, that appears to have the equivalent friction of pulling a ship back up a launching ramp, they haven’t got anything else visually to do. Where as, if you’re doing a multi 4 Bar loop AV set, five layers deep and you’re triggering them live, you’re busy with no time for the high friction mixer antics.
Recently we’ve been using performance tools like Resolume to create on as well as a performance tool. I tend to pick it up like a guitar and mess around, sometimes its a really useful ‘writing’ instrument too.
As a Barcelona resident, I can’t help but notice that you once had regular visual slots at Razzmatazz. Tell me more about that! How was the VJ scene in Barcelona back then? How is the scene in the UK these days?
This was VJ-ing with visual specialists/agency Microchunk , who were represented by William Morris, which meant we were well looked after. There was a core group of artists including Lady Pat, Mischa Ying, Ben Francis, Muthabored, Todd Graft and ourselves and we were lucky to perform and make installations everywhere from Norway’sHove festival, to Glastonbury. In Barcelona, we’d perform two nights, mainly at The Loft, Friday and Saturday from around 11pm till 6.30 in the morning, sometimes just Anna and I, but often other VJ’s. The local VJs were very gracious about us filling their slots. It was always full on at Razzmatazz, a really intense atmosphere. The club was always packed.We’re not really involved with the UK club scene at the moment, but friends who work for major acts seem to be far more controlled by a corporate plan.
You have both lived through a plethora of technological developments throughout your careers, starting with the use of VHS in your installations. What is your relationship with technology? Is it one of love and hate or it is a match made in heaven?
Anna and I are different generations – before I met Anna, I spent a lot of time blagging my way into analogue beta edit suites in Soho to make material – it was tricky, but looking back people were incredibly kind and helped me realise effecting footage shot on motorcycle trips with a clockwork Bolex. Anna and I started at the point of very low resolution VJ software – so we used hybrid mixtures of micro chapter DVD loops and Flash loops mixed with V4’s. I like the things that technology makes possible, but get frustrated with the art world tendency to think if you ‘paint ‘ with technology, that you should necessarily be using the very latest tech and trend. I enjoy mapping and responsive VR etc, but equally I like the confines of a rectangle and a painters vocabulary. Music doesn’t seem to have the same linearity, no one would think it odd playing a 1960’s Fender.
I enjoy mapping and responsive VR etc, but equally I like the confines of a rectangle and a painters vocabulary. Music doesn’t seem to have the same linearity, no one would think it odd playing a 1960’s Fender.
I notice that landscapes have been a recurring theme in your work, right up to your most recent project of Transitional Landscapes. What is it about landscapes as a subject that inspires you?
We all project memories and feelings onto our immediate surroundings. Landscape is a good genre to play with the relationship between still and moving imagery, the romantic v the analytical, the unveiling of narrative contrasted by the implicit ambiguities of painting (movies v fine art).
Mixing trees from around the world is strangely satisfying, they’re overlaying branches having a legitimacy. English copses with New World deserts keyed through wallpaper and fabric’s repeated motifs reference Richard Dadd’s The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke’s, heightened stillness, petrified trees and flattened nature, more tapestry than living environment. Then we can add other man made impositions, ghosts of utilities, power lines, imagined data paths, architectural plans, wiring diagrams and intimate blinking status LEDs. It seems to suite a first person view, apart from narrative.
What would be your advice be to young audiovisual enthusiasts who are keen to develop their careers in the industry?
Like the fine art world there are so many different strands of audiovisual arts. It will keep changing, entertainment will morph. How and what ‘artists’ do v creatives and ‘technicians’ etc is complicated. The EDM model was that music was the most important element – but now with performance more of an earner than record sales – maybe the creatives/technicians/, (not the artists) are the main act. To further confuse it all, AV is crossing over with fine art and stage design etc. So maybe listen to everyone and ignore them all.
Find out more about Overlap on their artist page