Re: VJ art

From: jaime cleeland (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Dec 16 2008 - 04:41:17 PST

I was not actually looking for a compliment or praise.  I realise I am quite out of my depth when trying to intellectualise and articulate my work to 'Professional film makers and old Professors' who have seen it all, played with all the tools. and wrote books about what it is they think and see experimental film is/as.  I have read with interest what Frameworks list has posted. I, however don't feel I need to be told what to expect of the List - again  maybe I have misunderstood.  I simply posted the links so that anybody who liked any of the images can cut up and do some thing with, hence the Creative Commons share-alike License.

--- On Mon, 15/12/08, Flick Harrison <> wrote:

From: Flick Harrison <email suppressed>
Subject: Re: VJ art
To: email suppressed
Date: Monday, 15 December, 2008, 11:28 PM

I think you completely misunderstood RSH's response.

That being said, you posted your VJ work on an experimental film group and asked for thoughts and feedback.  If you expected pure praise, you came to the wrong place - post it on or somewhere.

I think your stuff has stirred up a good discussion.  Take that as a compliment.

And just because you "put a lot of thought" into it doesn't make it art.  I could put a lot of thought into any activity.

Not to say it isn't art - but you're here on a critical theory / avante-garde discussion group with university professors, lifelong artists, etc; expect the criteria to be rigorous, varied, and contradictory.

Perhaps you can contribute to the discussion, instead of / in addition to further explosions of online VJ art.

And I'll throw in something more contentious...  

The reason VJ art isn't as interesting (so far as my limited experience) as experimental film was in its heyday - 

1.  well, 40-70 years ago, it was a physical feat to achieve these kind of textures etc, now it's like a plug-in module on every new computer.  Who cares that someone has applied stock effects to whatever imagery?  Who cares that you pointed a camera at a bookshelf for an hour?  The ease of getting and using the tools reduces the value of a cinematic shot almost to zero.  The privileged position of the film frame has been reduced absolutely.  The religious devotion of optical-printing for hours, days, years in a dark cave is a very different thing than sitting on the beach with a laptop twiddling inspectors and watching youtube during the renders.

2.  The number of people VJ'ing is now so large, that it takes more amazing work to rise above the slush, not to mention draw the attention of critics and curators, who in any case probably encounter it "in the wild" but don't have a niche for it in their programming

3.  The types of people fooling around with this stuff way back when, had access to tools and training in a more difficult environment.  So on one hand, folks who got their hands on it were necessarily more dedicated, tapped in to the centres of activity, and likely to stick with it long enough to make an impact in their scenes.  On the other hand, the types who did any of this work at all were probably more tuned in to the specific aesthetics that drew them out of the crowd and down the dark, narrow tunnel of avante-garde cinema - they were cinematic ubermenschen.  In the last ten years, I've seen some extreme dilettantes make some fine quality film work, then wander away to other endeavours.  It's not that difficult to throw together a production.  I teach 6 year olds to make film (and guess what?  The first thing they jump at is the visual effects).

4. Experimental film isn't so cool as it once was either... for the reasons listed above.  Video installation probably usurped the social role of experimental cinema through the 80's  (new form, not respected / established, moving imagery, manipulation of the dominant media form, etc etc) and the cultural spotlight has since moved waaaaaay on.  Maybe VJ'ing gets to bask in some of the reflected glory of all things "new media" but even new media is now being referred to as "electronic media" etc because it's not really new.  And so it goes.

*  BLOG / NEWS:*%c2%a0%c2%a0MYSPACE:

On 15-Dec-08, at 2:27 PM, jaime cleeland wrote:

Maybe Raymond Salvatore Harmon's slight snobbery would only see my efforts as mediocre.  All the same feel free to have a play & cut-up with:

--- On Mon, 15/12/08, Raymond Salvatore Harmon <email suppressed> wrote:

From: Raymond Salvatore Harmon <email suppressed>
Subject: Re: VJ art
Date: Monday, 15 December, 2008, 2:46 PM

The question of VJing as an art form is something I think is going to be much
more relevant to those filmmakers who express themselves in terms of
experimental and non narrative cinema as time goes on. The thing is, like any
kind of art there is going to be a lot of mediocrity and a few brilliant

James' statement that the film in question "looks like it could have
produced by a computer program" brings a lot of things up at once. I am
sure it was produced using a computer program. But so are much of the films we
watch today. Anything you watch on dvd used a computer program at some point.
What will eventually separate the mediocre from the brilliant will be an ability
to transcended the tools used in the creation of the piece in order to express
something beyond the variables inherent in its production. But anyone who is
familiar with the tools used in making a piece of art will see the signature of
those tools in the majority of works created with those tools.

VJing is a cultural phenomenon, linked most often to electronic dance music.
But much the way that not all electronic music is dance music not all VJ work is
the same.

As for the longevity of VJing as an art form I think the term itself will be
abandoned by artists who are looking to use this form of improvisational cinema
outside of the realm of the club/dance world.

But in its essence I feel that Vjing is exactly that, a form of improvisational
cinema, which will certainly continue to grow and be developed as time goes on.
The tools for making this kind of work are just now becoming available to a
wider public, but the form of creating cinematic expression in a live context
predates computers and video mixers by decades. Even contemporary filmmakers
like Bruce McClure and Luis Recoder are making films in a live context. They are
using film projectors and not video but the essence of the creative process is
the same.

Whether or not the "experimental film" community will embrace this
kind of experimental video or not remains to be seen. Yet there are artists
working in the field of the "VJ" that are pushing at the technological
boundaries of the art form and attempting to make something that is in fact art.

For two artists who (in my opinion) are working in the context of VJ art but
whose work transcends the club/rave stigma look here:

Karl Klomp

Claudio Sinatti

The one thing I have to ask though is how much more often the world is being
exposed to VJ work (regardless of its quality) than it is to "experimental
film" work? Thousands of kids jump around under the developing non
narrative form of live video every weekend all around the globe. Yet screenings
of some of the greatest artists of the avant garde and experimental film world
are lucky to have 100 attendees. Obviously the context of presentation is much
different but maybe its not the films being shown but that very context that
gives VJs such a larger audience. Maybe we should be screening Smith and
Brakhage films at raves instead of in tiny cinemas?


raymond Salvatore Harmon

Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2008 16:07:56 -0500
From: James Cole
Subject: Re: Vj Art
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It seems like there has been an uptick in VJ stuff around these parts
lately, which raises some interesting questions about how VJ media relates
to the more established forms of avant-garde cinema (although the use of the
word "established" is pretty generous even in the cases of people
like Deren
and Brakhage; but that's a different discussion).
I tend to not be very charitable in my appraisal of VJ media; for several
reasons. Primarily, because it seems like it is mainly intended (indeed,
best suited) to accompany electronic dance music; I can't see myself
to go into a cinema, sit as the lights go down, and watch two or three hours
of VJ media. Furthermore, it doesn't seem to have much to do with cinema
general; the editing is very basic, repetitive, and usually not all that
thoughtful. And the imagery is even worse than the editing, more often than
not. The times I've seen VJ performances, the imagery seemed more like an
extension of a club's usual strobe lights and fog machines; much more
atmospheric than expressive. Maybe VJing is just bad in Boston?
On the whole, though, when I hear the term "VJ art," it strikes me
the way
people talk about "video game art," or "sneaker art"
It's obvious someone
with a high level of skill made something that demonstrates their high level
of skill, at times it's pretty aesthetically breathtaking, but it
strike me as something that anyone will be, or ought to be, interested in a
few years down the line.
To be totally honest, the video that you sent looks like it could have been
produced by a computer program; I can't read any thing into it, and I
get anything from it. I'm not trying to be nasty; I'd really like to
how I'm supposed to approach something like that. It certainly resists the
sort of approaches one would use at a film by Su Friedrich or Hollis
Frampton or Ernie Gehr or whoever. Instead, I end up reading it as a type
of decoration; Christmas lights for bad music, which is probably way too
dismissive. At least, I'm sure isn't how people interested in VJ art
look at it. The fact that you're sort of asking for feedback suggests that
you see it as more than that (after all, people who design Christmas lights
probably don't have any desire to show their work and ask for feedback).
So I'm asking you, and anyone else who wants to take up the question; what
am I missing? How should I watch this? How does it fit in with the type of
film this list usually discusses?
Send e-mail anywhere. No map, no compass.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

__________________________________________________________________ For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

__________________________________________________________________ For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.