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Friday 12 May 2006 - Lux2006 VJ and Video Art Conference in Seville, Spain

Posters for Lux06 were all over the city - we must have seen hundreds of them. We realised that this event's a big deal for Sevilla.

It's a big deal for us too. Our most important VJ performance so far... performing in front of a load of the world's best in an amazing, historical venue, with our own choice of music (all Western Australian). Talk about performance anxiety.

As Ellen wasn't performing with us on the Friday, she took the task of documenting the performance and venue. Our minds were elsewhere - it was only afterwards when we looked at the video and photos she'd taken that we realised how much work she was doing too. We were so lucky to have had her with us, or we would have been so caught up prepping for the performance that there would be no documentation, apart from the desk mix and video stuck on a tripod during the actual performance.

I have to admit, we were a bit disappointed when we were told we'd be on inside the church in the earlier sessions, rather than on the main stage outdoors with the later acts. As it turned out though, we scored big-time with the church option. It was an amazing venue.

Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo (The Andalucian Centre for Contemporary Arts) is a complex of buildings that includes the former Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas de Sevilla - founded in 1399! The Monastery had a hospital that was among the best in the world, where Christopher Colombus was once a patient. During the Napoleonic Wars, the monks were expelled and French troops were stationed in the buildings. In the mid 19th Century, an English businessman acquired the buildings and converted them into a Porcelain and China Factory (hence the huge smokestacks) - which operated until 1982. The buildings were renovated and converted to house exhibitions for Expo92, and in 1997 it became what it is today - one of the most unusual and beautiful Contemporary Arts venues imaginable. No amount of money could buy something this unique, and the cobbled-together character of the building with bits and pieces from eight centuries of constant use is a very appropriate context for Postmodern art.

When we first walked in, we thought... oh no, what a tiny screen... But then once the tech-checks started, we realised that bit in the middle had nothing to do with the size of the projection.

Oooooh, that's BIG. We liked it muchly.

We didn't have a lot of room, as there were four performers using the stage and all of us needed to leave our equipment set up. We were using a full rig with a DM2 each, so we ended up with some of our gear piled on top of each other. There was a TV camera crew from Mexico filming the event - I wonder if we'll be on Mexican TV?

We got all set up and then... disaster. Jasper's Resolume wouldn't load. At all. He restarted his computer, but still it wouldn't work. We didn't have the Resolume installer with us, as we'd never had this problem before. Perhaps it was the stress of performance anxiety flowing through to the laptop?

Anyway, Jasper had one last idea - to delete the Resolume Settings file. It worked, and he could load it up. It meant that a lot of his settings were wrong, which made performing a little more difficult - but at least it worked.

As we were setting up, we realised just how many people were interested in our DM2s. We were originally going to do just our video-painting style for Lux, but changed our plans when we'd seen which piece they selected for the exhibition - one of our archival, scratch-up party pieces. We were right to include scratching in the set - Jasper even finished the set off with a simple live-scratch of an Astaire & Rogers dance scene.

The other thing we realised during setup was that the amount of light meant that we had to use bright clips to show up properly - so we went for a lot more brassy-looking, less-subtle clips. As it turned out, due to tech issues we were on nearly an hour after we were mant to be, and it was fully dark - so we should have stuck with our originals. But.. that's what you get when you can't get a rehearsal in venue before an event.

After setup, we were supposed to have dinner with the other VJs - but as we were on early, we only got a short time to meet n' greet. Anyone and Motorboy were really nice, and a guy from D-Fuse was very cool too - he was also a vegetarian, and we were amused by the main course we got - chunks of raw onion, iceberg lettuce and tomato, with blister-packs of oil and vinegar. It was all the more amusing as the entree was beautiful - fresh asparagus, grilled with a parmesan and cream sauce. Ellen said her chicken was very nice, but even that was accompanied by cubed veges from the freezer. Considering that this was the only meal we've eaten in a restaurant in Spain, we really didn't know what to make of it. I wondered if it was because they have a Tapas culture here... lots of small dishes, and that the English-style of eating large, defined single-plate meals very quickly at particular times of day just doesn't suit their social, gregarious lifestyle. Of course that's a huge generalisation, based on one restaurant meal :P

The performer who was on first was a Spanish VJ. We think his name was Videotone, but don't know much about him and didn't get to talk to him. We really liked his work though - very abstract. Some of it appeared to be algorthim-based, and he worked to an ambient, spacy sound-art piece that really suited the venue. Sadly, we didn't have enough tape to get all of the performances but it was all being documented by the organisers, so hopefully we can see more of the work later.

It was our time to go on, and still quite light. There were very few people in the venue yet, all the VJs were still at dinner, not many of the punters had arrived yet and there were just a few organisers sitting in the pews to watch us. We were a bit disappointed, but at least glad that Jasper's Resolume was working. But then.. they faded up to us and instead of our output, it was just big, coloured abstract blobs. It looked cool, but there was no way we'd be able to hold a sit-down audience's attention for 45 minutes with coloured blobs!

The techs first of all thought it was our equipment, despite the fact that it was all working fine at the tech-check an hour earlier. We didn't have an output monitor, so they had to grab one of those to plug into our desk before they believed that our signal was fine and that the crapification was downstream. There was a huge, complex video desk/matrix switcher, and a 10,000 lumens projector - which I think was all hired, so the tech didn't really know the equipment very well. I tried to get across that it looked incredibly zoomed, perhaps the guy before us couldn't go second-screen and so had been zoomed on a small area of his screen as his output.

Anyway, it look about three quarters of an hour before they found the person who had the remote for the projector, which obviously HAD been zoomed after our tech-check. We'd been sitting on stage all that time, embarrassed that people might think it was our fault. Although, as one of the techs pointed out, it was really good for us, because it had got dark. Also, the place had filled up with people - including all the other VJs, so they got to see our work.

It wasn't our best work, as we'd changed what we were using at the last minute to try to suit the conditions better - then they'd changed anyway :P We did OK though, and managed to show a good selection of what we do and used a really wide range of music by Western Australian artists. We did:

One thing that has really struck us this trip, since this is the first time we've had to play for 45 minutes to a sit-down audience, is that a neat jump from one track to the next is REALLY difficult in Resolume as it currently works. Even by playing tag and alternating tracks between us, it's difficult to get all the settings and decks just-right for each track in time. Every single track that we played live wasn't as well done as when we did it for DVD, or when we do longer performances where we use similar effects for a full set, with minor adjustments throughout. To jump from one look to a completely different look in a short space of time is very difficult, as there are so many settings and each one needs tweaking for a few minutes to get it to work just right. What we need is the ability to save ALL the settings for a particular track, and then just load them up - eg a Patch.

After us came 1n0ut, who I think an Austrian duo - two guys. I really liked their piece at the exhibition, it was ambient and soft, quite painterly. Looked a bit like electric Sheep in places, but abstracted and mixed with organic footage. Very mysterious and intriguing. At the live performance though, they used images of eyeballs and did some live-cam stuff of hand gestures. It was very in-your-face and looked like raw steak a lot of the time. The techniques were very cool though, even though the content was a little stressful and made us a bit squeamish. The sound was WAY too loud - glad we brought ear-plugs, but I really liked their music. I don't know if it was their own.

Nokami from Canada was on next. We'd met him earlier with his entourage, and he seemed like a really nice guy. His work is predominantly video, but cut-up to look like stills flashing very quickly. They look decayed and old, which adds a nostalgic appeal. He was working with a sound artist, who I think was local but I don't know his name as unfortunately there were no programs and so none of the musicians got credited :(

We realised why we were in the church rather than the main stage - it was all at the 'Arty' end of VJing, and suited us much better. The main stage was far more club-culture VJing.

Main Stage by day:

By night:

We enjoyed VJ Anyone and Motorboy's set very much, but then we were so tired that when we were offered a lift back to our apartments with all our equipment, we jumped at the chance. Raquel's partner Hanin kindly drove Caroluna to her hotel, and then us to our apartments. He's a great guy, really intelligent and funny. As we've finally found people here that we can talk to, we're realising how similar the Spanish sense of humour is to the Australian. Sort of wry, self-depracating and ironic. Even when we can only half-understand people, we get their little jokes and jibes. It's made such a difference, we're enjoying it so much more here now we have some people to talk to, and can find out more about local culture and the way of life.

A few more snaps outside the venue:

Ellen, Jas and Kat with one of the organisers, our new good friend, Raquel.

There's also some of our work on the official Lux06 Video Blog.


VJzoo are grateful to our generous supporters:
Plaza Digital - Best Service in Perth for Camera Video Computer
Government of Western Australia
ArtsWA - Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts TDK Australia
Microcinema  International - the Art of the Moving Image

.... and our families :)

copyright all material 2003 - present kat black & jasper cook

copyright all material 2005 kat black & jasper cook