Archive for the ‘eclectic method’ Tag

How to VJ #4

I took a hiatus from this series to tighten it up. Then I noticed something crucial was missing – I’d never made any attempt to provide a map, any co-ordinates, for what I’m talking about.

So here it is: a short breakdown of key types of VJing, as it stands.

1. The AV Geek

Obviously most VJs are AV geeks. But when you track back to the early works by people like Coldcut and Hexstatic, you see where it all came from.

The AV geek likes to sample. Loves to sample, in fact. Because they’re hooked on video. The more directly, and literally, the video can relate to the sound – the better.

The results have a strong element of pastiche and pop-post-modern. Two of the best contemporaries in this mould are Eclectic Method and Addictive TV.

The laziest AV geeks loop samples from Fear and Loathing and the Kubrick archive with zero editing and little live manipulation. Watch you don’t fall into that trap.

2. The Mo-Graphic Designer

No less important in the history and development of VJing. On a bad day, this is the kind of performer you’d describe as a Screensaver VJ because their style is more closely aligned with computer than film.

At the one extreme, you’ll see the High Concept Electrician – tinkerers so deep in the machine they can produce sets through the visualisation of feedback/ distortion/ channels from old analogue equipment.

At the other, you’ll see beautiful, bespoke 3-D motion graphic design and a high-level of MIDI synchronisation. Dispensing with film allows a much more accurate and minimalist representation of sound. See below.

3. The Animator

I haven’t seen this too often in clubs and it tends to be less live. The first example that came to mind was Mr Scruff. As he illustrates his albums with line drawings, it makes perfect sense to animate them for performance.

If anyone’s got a better or more developed example, please share. VJing could be a rich terrain for the old-fashioned animator but it tends not to be how it’s done. Perhaps the live editing is too challenging.

4. The Director

I’ve picked out Ben Strebel here because he’s a huge talent and a good friend.

This kind of VJ is a director first and foremost – VJing provides an opportunity to test out their original material in front of a large audience. It’s like live showreeling, to an extent.

Ben does a lot more than that, and his performances involve motion graphics and animation too. But his work in music video and short film directs and characterises what he does live on a night.

Here’s one of his latest music videos for the Stereo MCs.

5. The Light Artist

Artists like Simian Mobile Disco and many other big name headliners perform with LED shows. They strip back to light and light alone.

The very best in this field, however, work more along the lines of installation. They aren’t shackled by a single screen. Their projections are multiple and the results are breathtaking.

Massive Attack have moved into this area in the last few years, but my favourites remain The Light Surgeons for their constant boundary-pushing and absolute focus on creating 3D-lit moving habitats wrapped right around their audience.

It’ll be back to business with How to VJ #5. But if anyone wants to challenge these loose categories – add, amend or expand – go for it. Post a comment.

Previously: #3 Keep it in time; Up next: #5 Layers upon layers.