Last Friday, Tate Modern, London’s international centre for modern and contemporary art, hosted a half day event entitled ‘Going Professional VJing’. Featuring superstar VJs, ‘Eclectic Method‘, ‘VJ Anyone‘ and Chris Allen of ‘‘ The Light Surgeons, the three hour event sold out, attracting an audience that ran the gamut from the curious, to VJing software developers.
During the first half of the event, each act did a 25 minute presentation, in which they talked about how they got started, showed some of their work and offered tips for going professional.
First up were AV mash up artists, Eclectic Method, who succinctly summed up how best to navigate the minefield that is obtaining copyright clearance with their central message of “Don’t be afraid… everyone who should have sued us has employed us!” Punk Rock!
Next up was VJ Anyone, who offered his eight point plan for VJing success:
1) Be enthused
2) Be connected (attend AV/VJ events, use VJ sites such as VJ Forums and get yourself connected…yeah, yeah, yeah…).
3) Be cultured (do your homework, find out about the VJing scene, know its history.)
4) Be generous (share your time and skills with others, especially those with a different skillset, as what goes around, comes around)
5) Be equipped (whether it’s laptops and Resolume or Pioneer DVJs, VJs need gear…and technical equipment too).
6) Find a balance between performing and production.
7) Find patronage, be it a live audience or a corporate sponsor.
8) Delegate (one person can’t do everything…or everyone…)
Finally, Chris Allen, went for comedy value with an interactive presentation. In contrast to VJ Anyone, who advised everyone to equip themselves with the latest and greatest gear, Chris, whose trademark style includes Super 8, 16mm film loops, 35mm slides and even mirrors spinning round on turntables, suggested using the oldest, cheapest equipment possible, as he did, when he first started, in order to create something more organic.
And in contrast to Eclectic Method’s advice of “sell out until you can buy out,” he decried “corporate bullshit.” Unsurprisingly, during the second half, this lead to a ‘lively debate’…or, put less euphemistically…a head on clash between VJing cultures… sampling vs. original content… meaning vs. entertainment value…idealism vs. practicality…sit down festival audiences looking at a screen vs. drugged out clubbers looking for “social interaction”…there was even a rather amusing argument about Marcel Duchamp and whether it was he or primitive cultures that invented sampling…well it was the Tate Modern…and VJing is art…allegedly…
There was also some great practical advice about how to get seen when you are new, which included using online sites such as YouTube to promote your work, playing gigs wherever you can free of charge, organising your own parties, producing a promo DVD to give out to people, forming a collective…and of course, the guerrilla approach which, if you are Eclectic Method, includes everything from projecting video out of your bedroom window…to projecting video out of a moving vehicle…which is, of course, completely legal, as long as you’re not using a mobile phone at the same time…
In conclusion, an excellent afternoon’s education and entertainment with some of the world’s top VJs. If you missed the event and have aspirations in this direction then check out VJ Anyone’s highly renowned quarterly VJing workshop, which next takes place this Wednesday (9th May) at Westminster Kingsway College…and if you want to know more about what these guys do, then check out my JIB award nominated episode of MCTV, featuring VJ Anyone and Eclectic Method.
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