The Evolution of Live Cinema – C4 House Party

In case you were asleep or too busy out getting shit-faced on your own terms and remain unaware; Channel 4 held an A.M. Event on the weekend just passed with some of the greatest and up and coming DJs of our time along with some of the best VJs to match (DJ meaning Disc Jockey and VJ meaning Video Jockey, see what they did there?).

“Subjects related to VJing are, but not exclusively: identity and persona (individual and collective), the moment as art, audience participation, authorship, networks, collaboration and narrative.”
- 'VJing', by 375 Wikipedians

While adding visual effects that sync with the music being played has been around since the late 1800s, it has recently had a major revival with the cheapness and growth of large flat screen televisions, allowing images to be displayed all over clubs and not to mention the price reduction of projectors, particularly around the time of the dot-com bust. No more film projectors and no more bulky cathode ray tvs means you don’t need to trek to Ibiza and put up with hedonistic tourists who forgot their dignity in the british isles to get the best the VJing world has to offer.

Evolving parallel with things like Video Art and Music Visualisation, its recent rebirth into the general public, courtesy of Channel 4, can be easily traced through the growth in club scenes and festivals along with the growing popularity in digital art forms.

Live VJing on television was nothing new however. Hippie bands in the 70s had perfected the idea when playing on weekly talk shows. Watching 'House Party' at 2 in the morning and you start to notice some of the tacky similarities, the horrible green-screen-like effects got annoying but luckily the VJs changed with each DJ change.

Callin VJing 'Live Cinema' the way I and others before me have is a pretty strange thing to say. Live Cinema would simply be theatre, wouldn’t it? Well not exactly. I constantly forget animation as a major player in the world of cinema and to think of it as 'Live Animation' or 'Live Editing' makes much more sense entirely, but looses that whole shock value I guess. Who knows, at the rate technology is advancing we could possibly see the live recording, editing and distribution of full feature films. I guess a lot like live television but on a bigger scale.

I look forward to watching the evolution of the trade.

If you are interested in reading more about the extensive and highly detailed history and background of the VJ there is an extremely interesting article I found for you here.

Let's take a look at some of the VJs on show at the channel 4 House Party:

1. Weirdcore

What weirdcore does best is manipulates images that have already been shot rather than entirely form them himself through animation. Of English/French decent and “Specialising in extreme whatever-ness” he distorts and cuts parts of an image, multiplies it, adds colour and give them echo effects. He is also known, through some of his work on music videos for just drawing over recorded images mainly focusing on sharp shapes and vibrant tacky colours.

2. Hexstatic

In 2000 Hexstatic released the UKs first audio-visual album 'Rewind'. Hexstatic are Stuart Warren-Hill and Robin Brunson, they mainly focus on 3D imagery and mathematical, retro gaming type images. They are known for massive Electraglide shows in Japan as well as illegal Guerilla gigs on the streets of London and have also handed out 3D glasses with some of their work. I find it extremely interesting how they constantly create both music and visuals simultaneous and wonder in which order they do it or if it all flows out organically like a mental dam breaks and Weird Science comes gushing out.

Pulse from Hexstatic on Vimeo.

3. Jack Featherstone

Jack Featherstone takes on a much different approach to VJing than the others mentioned above. It is clear from the start that Jack is just as much a disciplined artist and designer as he is a digital image maker. His designs are clean and fresh, often incorporating minimalist ideas and repetitive structures. Playfulness and experimentation can be found through many of his pieces (notice how I said 'pieces').

4. blinkinLAB

Unfortunately one of the more generic, but I'm sure more financially successful, VJs on the list. Tom Wall is the creative director of the company which he founded in 2006. Its work consists of massive 3D animations, sprawling landscapes, shiny moving machines and the whole 'lets follow this red strip as it goes on an adventure' type stuff. We've seen all this before. It is looped in clubs, bad clubs, clubs you hope the drink is cheap in because you'll need plenty of it to put up with the company.

blinkinLAB Showreel from blinkinLAB on Vimeo.

5. Aszyk

The last and the most fun VJ on the list starring Neal Coghlan and Matt Bullock. Bright happy colours, animated characters and so visually active that it would go with any sort of music. Although it may not initially go with your typical clubbing scene, I think the idea of fun in their work would easily pass through and incite more of a good time rather than a some sort of visual attack that others in the profession may attempt.

Tasty Visuals from Neal Coghlan on Vimeo.