Interview: Annapurna Kumar

Annapurna has been developing a lovely visual language. The performance above is a display of vibrant colors and forms along with a vitality that is demonstrated in how clips are switched to the music. It is a basic formula that is to me undeniable, and has compelled me to ask some questions about her work. What is your artistic background?

Annapurna: I’ve been studying drawing and painting since I was a kid, and got
into animation more recently. I’ve been doing projections with bands
for a couple years, and I’ve done some one-off pieces as well. This
year I had an animation screened at the Punto y Raya Festival,
projected a site-inspired animation onto the Civil War Museum at
InLight Richmond, and was part of a multi-media performance
commissioned by the Annenberg Foundation. I also went on two US tours
as a VJ performing my original animations. When and where did you learn about live video and when did you start doing it?

Annapurna: I started doing live video about 3 years ago. I was living with an
electronic musician and was jealous about how he was able to perform
his work live. I wanted to do the same thing visually because I felt
like my drawings and animations were too detached from the present
moment. I had never really considered VJing before that, and I spent a
few months trying to think up a system from scratch. Then I stumbled
across the Modul8 blog and realized there was already a community with
accessible tools available for exactly what I wanted to do. What do you use to control your video?

Annapurna: I’ve been keeping my setup really simple to make it easy to take on
tour. I use a UC-33 midi controller plugged into an old macbook pro.
Modul8 is the only program I have running. I do a lot of rhythmic
triggering on my keyboard using the media set and a module called
Layer Selector. Once in a while I will link something to the BPM. I
never use sound reactivity. It’s more fun to button-mash. I generally
use pre-made animations that I create with specific sections of
specific songs in mind with areas laid aside for improvisation. How do you go about creating your material for live shows?

Annapurna: The videos posted here were done using mostly After Effects, Cinema
4d, and a little Flash. These days, I work in Flash a lot more because
I got addicted to it’s interface for drawing things frame by frame. I
have a lot of different influences so I’m usually improvising and
piecing different ideas together. I will not pursue something unless
it remains fun during the whole process.

– What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the geometry that I see underlying things. I like to
take recognizable objects and make them move in new ways that
emphasize their design. Lately I’ve been really into graffiti,
mosaics, stained glass, and constellations. But I’m inspired by a lot
of stuff. There are many contemporary illustrators and painters that
have influenced me, but my main sources of inspiration come from the
past. I’ve been doing a lot with Renaissance architecture lately, and
before that I was looking at Native American paintings that were
created on the trail of tears. Before that I was immersing myself in
the work of the first experimental animators like Norman McLaren and
Oskar Fischinger. I guess I go through phases and I just celebrate
whatever I’m drawn to visually. What is next for you?

Annapurna: I’m doing my third US tour in May to promote Ryat’s next album, Totem,
which is coming out on Brainfeeder. The projections for this tour are
a little less abstract than what I’ve done in the past, but still
based on a lot of geometry. I’m looking forward to doing visuals for
Mono/poly and Mast on that tour as well. In the meantime I am making a
sequel to my visual score, “Candy”, doing some freelance work, and
creating a visual show for pcoat’s next album.

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