One of my most favorite performances from Mapping Festival 2010 was Pips:Lab. The Netherlands based collective combine live capture light writing, audience participation and cross dressing into a post-progressive hippie anthem turned into a tech biz presentation pitch. The result is Diespace… no wait… Diespace! where you upload your soul so that when you die your family can still talk to you, consult with you about their problems, send you gifts etc.
Post this experience I had a chat with one of their members, Stije Hallema who, as it happens, is a big fan of Modul8. The above is a short clip that cannot even be considered an interview. Initially he only gave me his MySpace address (it was a blank profile with only Tom as his friend) so I could not obtain this much coveted experience. Luckily one thing lead to another and I am able to share the Octobaboon with you in todays post.
What is happening here? Stije figured out how to use his rumblepad to control Modul8. He then got the idea to use an image of a female weight lifter and edit her so she has multiple arms and a baboon head, surround her with instruments and make it so that each arm has a separate animation that ‘hits’ one of the instruments when he hits a button on his rumble pad.
Along with the expansion of the Modul8 community, comes the valuable support of artists who see the benefit of the immediacy of the tool in situations where one does not want to spend a lot of time messing around with the software to achieve their creative vision.
One example is my friend Bego of the Nino Viejo collective. She has spent this spring and part of this summer working in Prague, teaching students how to use Modul8 as part of a tool set in integrating projections of drawings and animations into films or placing projections inside the environment so that there is a more intimate experience with the projected material as opposed to the projected image always living within the boundaries of the projection screen. See the image above as a prime example of both.
The Czech republic has always had a rich tradition of animation, particularly stop motion animation. The video below is documentation of the activities that unfolded the past months at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. While the footage including Modul8 is almost at the end it is worth looking through the student projects. We can see the roots of a new generation that is finding ways to communicate ideas with any means and materials that are available be it digital or painting on walls or the body.
Only a few hours train ride brings us to Vienna. Considered by some to be the VJ capital of the world, the artist Florian Luanisch created a rather poetic document of a Modul8 workshop he did during the last edition Sound:Frame festival.
What is so important about Vienna and VJing? “Capital of VJing?!” I asked myself these questions as well when first hearing them from a friend a few months ago. A clearer picture of the answer came from meeting the documentary film maker Frederick Baker at the 2010 edition of the c/o Pop conference in Cologne, Germany. His book “The Art of Projectionism” provides a multi-faceted view of what it is that we are doing with this medium.
As I had suspected there is a generous gap between east and west when it comes to common knowledge about the VJ world, as I discovered that Frederick had little knowledge of any of the individuals who were invited to the Wiki-Sprint that was conducted at the last edition of the Mapping Festival. This VJ Wiki-Sprint was initiated by the Mapping Festival in order to improve a much needed overhaul of the VJ page on Wikipedia that appeared to be stuck somewhere in 1998. The VJ Wiki-Sprint team consisted of a series of individuals from Europe and America who saw the value in championing this medium. Manuel Schmalstieg (aka N3krosoft), Ana Carvalho (of VJ Theory), Tom Bassford (aka SleepyTom), Carrie Gates, Raphael DiLuzio and Carole Thibaud (combined with a host of others who communicated via the interweb) gathered together in a small room that was part of the Mapping Festival downtown office to put their minds and hearts together to bring things up to date. As is it turns out there are enough references now to construct a solid narrative that brought us to where we are today that the collective criticism of the Wikipedia world can no longer dispute.
Nevertheless, for the moment Mr. Bakers “The Art of Projectionism” is not included as a reference on this page. But give how much progress was made during the VJ WikiSprint (and the fact that I am writing this post) I am sure it will not be long before it is.
How can we shorten the gaps between us? For starters, if you are located in western Europe I would encourage you to take some time off and attend the upcoming VJ/DJ playground in Austria that is set for August 5th through the 8th. Sadly, I will not be able to make it this year due to a much overdue vacation. But it should not prevent you from attending, sharing and learning.