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Arkaos Interactive Technology Profile Interview

Jo Griffins JMG 13

What I think vjing is about…

1.Explain how you started VJing at raves and dance parties?

In the beginning, (around 1995) I was fortunate to be hanging around a group of older artists & clubbers who produced and designed the visuals for the rat parties…. it was quite an education. I have always been an artist who dabbles in different mediums, so vjing was just another form of artistic expression – large moving canvases that happened to be in parties.

2.Are you a part of the dance party/electronic music scene?

As I have been vjing for seven years, there are some events and musicians I have grown and worked with over this period. In particular these are the bexta live show over five years, Ben Suthers, in the boiler room @ the big day out, John Ferris @ Plastic, the fuzzy crew and recently Jane Slingo for the breaks on ngage tour.

For me, scenes come and go, it is more about collaborating with producers, promoters, musicians who are interested in creating something different for their audiences, not just putting a logo up on a screen and I guess over time you tend to work better with the people who believe in your work.

3.Does a VJ mix images live or is their set pre-mixed?
A vj can do both or a combination. Say for example with a bexta show in the past it has been a predefined show in terms of trax listing and thematic content for each trax. But this is about to change as the software that we are both using will allow more for jamming or flexibility, In the material we can chop and change depending on the vibe of the show.

However, if I am vjing in a club, then I have visual content that comes out of the computer of vhs, tape, DVDs or cameras that I mix live.

4.Can you explain the mixing process, the equipment, and how you use it?

The best analogy for the mixing process is part composition and arrangement. That is understanding visual foregrounds and backgrounds and having some ability to read the crowd and listen to the music.

However, I think technology and software is important and provides the impetus for what I do, but I always have a belief that it is the ideas and serving the purpose of the night that is far more important than the software that I use – there is always a new bit of technology anyway. On the other hand, I’m completely consumed by technology, and I’m always problem solving and learning something new; it’s getting to the point where I want to learn a bit of software design, so I can manipulate my tools better.

In how to use all of this stuff, I guess practice, practice, practice. In addition, learn about the tools you are using, especially think about things like resolution, it often quality of the imagery than quantity.

6.How different are each of your VJ sets?

My VJ sets depend on the tempo of the music. Different music different awareness. The break on ngage tour imagery was didactic referencing styles from my favourite film la Haine, breakbeat, and graffiti subcultures. While bextas show has been produced over five years so and relates to particular traxs, while if I am mixing for John Ferris on his acid plastic nights then its all Acidity Mandelbrot fractals…. I think its important to work with the stylistic concerns of the music put keep true to your own visual signature.

7.How do you get inspired for a VJ set? Do you immerse yourself in a certain DJ’s music style or is your work completely independent from the music?

It is all about the music, but inspiration can come from some very strange places from art exhibitions, films, stories etc. But to keep the flow of creativity happening its about remaining opening to the world and people around you …this gets harder as you get comfortable with what you like…

To add in here, there are a few music clip directors such as Michel Gondry, Chris Cunngiham, and the Vegie Boys (who designed the visuals for the chemical brothers show) who are inspiring. In addition, reading res magazine….

8.Can you describe the different kinds of images and visual concepts you use during your sets?

It is a mish mash of ideas, from cyber geisha girl to matrix motion graphics. To neon street signs.
Being a former gymnastic I am interested in the movement of the body and I have a lot of work that has focused on these elements where I have worked with dancers in a blue screen studios.

With bexta, the visuals have been developed over a long time, with specific themes for individual tracks. Eg. beXtas seventeen year old cat cinders passed away this year, she wrote a trax about it and I was working on an animation that has a girl bowing to cat and it kinda goes together like that…. different music different alternating consciousness…

9.Where do you source these images?

I do not source them I produce and create them via filmmaking and photography.

10.What kinds of environments do VJ sets thrive in? Can these environments include both musical and non-musical settings?

I think it goes with out saying that vjs always respond better when they are treated like artists rather than technicians.

I think it would also be fair to say that there are different levels to what vjs want to do, which can be from art installation in a gallery, contemporary dance, opera, being in a band, vjing in a small club or vjing in a open field over two days or vjing in a music festival, being on tour.

Vjing is about responding to sound

What sort of VJ and where you fit best I think only comes about from experiencing different environments.

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11. Describe what you think vision mixing adds to a musical performance?

If you look at live musical performance and theatre today, film, visuals, images are being used in interesting ways to enhance the experience of storytelling.

There can be a powerful and harmonious relationship with music and images.

Are we getting to a point where the music is enhanced by the images….does it make the stimulus of the live performance more enriching,
There are so many factors at play in getting the vibe right, vision mixing is about travelling with a certain idea during the trax, being able to change the atmosphere as the trax moves on and working the lighting and laser operators so the environment is entertaining for the clubber.

But in general the audience rarely remembers the visuals, they only remember the over stimulus of the night…. especially if the images are abstract its difficult to describe what you are looking at when your all of your senses are charging.

So in summary vision mixing provides one level of entertainment/stimulus /experience to the musical performance that quickly fades away. Vision mixing is a temporary artwork…

This is somewhat depressing but a reality …

12.What is your best VJ experience? Can you describe it?

Career highlights for me have been the Big Day Outs especially last years Boiler Room in Perth (vjing for the bexta live show), and seeing Kraftwerk. One other gig that stands out to date is last years Field Day as it was a special gig having family and close friends enjoying my work. & themselves and I was pretty happy vjing at Home for the Sydney show for the breaks on ngage tour last week, I had to play with a room of ten plasma screens…..

13.Can you explain what JMG 13 stands for?
Jmg13, is my name my birthday and lucky number

4.In what other mediums do you create artworks?

I started out as a textile designer, moved to sculpture and photography, but were stuck in the digital world of vjing, motion graphics, websites and filmmaking. I constantly wish for more time to create new work.

15.Where else can you find your artworks?

A good example of my work can be found in my website from animation to flash art.
http://www.angelfire.com/film/jmg133/
I am slowly putting my photography into exhibitions and competitions; the whereabouts are updated on my site
Video Installation yu branding vhs tapes that run on Friday and Saturday nights.
Occasionally channel v and rage run the “make it Phunkee” music clip I directed
Gigs coming up are Field Day and the Big day Out and more bexta live shows in conjunction with the launch of her solo album, which will include the documentary about the live show, which was produced by beXta and I.

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