Report from the VJ Festival in Erlangen, Germany
Ben Cook (Synthetics) and I went to the VJ Festival in Erlangen, Germany, to perform with our act Instructions. It’s a new festival that I became aware of when they contacted the Swedish VJ Union about half a year ago, right in the backwaters of the Visual Berlin festival scandal. What started up as a small festival became a pretty big one with 8 VJs, 11 A/V live acts, 3 movie screenings, 7 installations and 9 DJs. The F.E.T.E. crew under the direction of the VJ couple Norbert Schoder and Stephanie Peters produced the event and they took very good care of artists and guests.
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We got to stay with a guy called Max and and became flatmates with Ricardo Cançado a.k.a. VJ Eletro-I-Man, a fun and crazy brazilian guy that lives in Barcelona and runs the Visual Brazil festival. He had two performances and a lecture during the festival. Because Ben and I live in different countries we had some synchronizing to do which left us dealing a little too much with preparations instead of seeing more lectures and performances. We still got to see some of the great stuff that was going on at the festival:
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Probably the best and most inspiring experience during the festival was Kadâmbini, an audiovisual theater performance by the French group Iduun. It’s a dreamy Terry Gilliam like narrative made up of a mix of pre shot video, animation, acting, live video, video mapping, recorded audio and live sound effects.
[vimeo width=”445″ height=”250″]http://vimeo.com/11987591[/vimeo]
I’m not a huge fan of 3D, not “normal” 3D nor anaglyph 3D (the kind made to be viewed with cyan/red glasses). The audiovisual act Parallaxis from Vienna did a panoramic version of the latter. But it was pretty cool in a way, giving a whole new meaning to z-space and also more depth to the whole audiovisual performance. It also made me realize that it only gave a really good effect when the graphics were moving towards the audience. If it goes the opposite direction – into the screen, anaglyphic 3D is totally unnecessary since it looks the same as moving in to z-space in a normal way. Unfortunately I missed the lecture from Parallaxis where they talked about their anaglyph techniques. I would be pretty interested in knowing how you can change the visual depth in a live mix.
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Bildströrung is a crew from Switzerland. They are the kind of guys who knows so much about the video technology that they tend to take over festivals as technical directors. The Bildstörung guys provided the video matrix that made the festival’s 7 screen setup possible. For their own performance they did a setup where they fed one screen each in a triple screen setup.
Our own performance with Instructions went really well. We were headlining on Saturday at 2 in the morning (or well, technically sunday) to the tunes of DJ Julietta and DJ Ana from Munich. We’ve been continuing on the theme from the last gig we did together. It’s based on lights and reflections and has references to experiments with film and light in the 20’s and 30’s. We were accomplished for the soulfulness in the analog look of our visuals. I lost my voice on friday night and had a bit of a hard time communicating with Ben during the gig on saturday. That’s when TextEdit comes in handy.
A person who’s performance we missed but who together with VJ Eletro-I-Man was one of the most colorful people of the festival was Aiko Okamoto a.k.a. Mo. When she wasn’t sleeping under a jacket or over a desk she was running around dancing with a bottle in her hand, shooting images of people with an array of different cameras or constructing costume items out of scraps found in the artist’s lounge.
On sunday there was a brunch for the artists where festival director Norbert Schoder got really sick from fatigue and had to have a visit by the paramedics while laying down on an improvised bed on the restaurant floor. He had simply had too little food the previous days and stayed up way too many ours. He was already feeling much better on Monday when I stayed at his and Stephanie’s place.
The last event of the festival was a workshop with Iduun. Philippe Chaurand gave a demo of their Modul8 modules MapMapMap and Monomal. The first is a module that makes video mapping a breeze thanks to a well made interface. The second one is a module for the Monome which let’s you control an audio visual composition in 4 layers.
I don’t know if they will be doing the Erlangen VJ festival next year but I wouldn’t mind coming back if they did – job well done!