The following interview was published in Three-d World Street Mag in May 2001.
<tesseract> is the live visual mind-meld between Cindi Drennan & Justin Maynard, gene-splicing visions and dreams with technology to escalate human evolution.
1. What originally interested you in VJing?
Justin discovered the concept of visual performance within the dance scene whilst over in the states in '96, and because of our mutual interest in music/technology/art we threw ourselves into exploring the possibilities. That was about four years ago, since then we haven't stopped performing or experimenting! Our main interest is use to light and sound creatively within environments, which involves R&D, installations and teamwork, plus media preparation and mixing.
2. How did you get started?
Justin and I were trained in film / theatre / multimedia and <tesseract> draws on all our technical, creative and organisational abilities. We started just with Justin's 7500/80 AV desktop macintosh, and eventually added more hardware to be able to have flexibility and responsiveness as yet impossible within software. We also had the support of creative minds like Luke of Sub Bass Snarl,Clan Analogue, Metro Screen and the Projectroom network, for our professional and creative development. We discovered that many people were interested in live video performance and we have recently become involved with a national group of video artists who are interested in expanding the culture beyond "video jockey" (check www.vidi-yo.com).
3. What does your studio consist of as opposed to your “travelling studio”?
Live performance video lab: two vision mixers, DVD / VCR decks, cameras,
2 x laptops, other devices as required by event (eg fairlight CVI,
projector(s), media. Torches, Gaffer tape, tools, coax cable, adaptors,
blacks, various shaped screens, etc! And being prepared to create
/ instal / perform
/ and then lug gear at wee small hours. The rig for outdoor events
Studio rig: three vision mixers, lighting and studio set-up, rackmounted matrix switcher, fairlight CVI, DV editing suite, miscellaneous gear for experimentation or unusual effects. Space to shoot or animate new work. This is the place where the messy meets the tidy and they do battle for supremacy.
4. What basic equipment does someone need to set themselves up as a VJ?
Assuming that the essential infrastructure is in place (screens, projectors, cabling etc), the basic requirements are a collection of visual material (your own original or samples of other work) and a device for mixing. How much material depends on how long you want to play for, assume a 4 hour set would need at least that much material on separate streams, to be able to combine it in different ways. You can mix using software (if all your material is on a computer) or a video mixer (if all your material is on tape or media).
5. Do you pre-record some of your imagery and then use it like a band would use a backing tape, or is everything that you do live?
We use a combination: for the best effect we prepare source material for shows which is suitable for mixing and switching live, responding to the rhythm of an event. <tesseract> have many hours of source material the majority of which is our own original video or animation (you won't see manga or sci-fi samples in our work unless someone slips a tape in when we ain't lookin!). We also have material that has already been pre-mixed, which we can use as background texture or to play if a piece of gear goes down and we need our hands free to trouble-shoot.
6. How do you record and store your work? Is it predominantly
rather than analogue now?
We still cart the legacy format of VHS around :) but probably 50% of our live work is now in digital formats, and we plan to be 100% digital within the next 12 months. But VHS is still the most cost effective format for long mix tapes, loops and for recording our live shows. And we will continue to support VHS as most of the artists we work with still use it!
7. What is your favourite piece of equipment and why?
Justin: Hard question, but my current favourite is
our DVD player allowing us to replace bulky tapes
Cindi: The DV editing suite, and modified MX-10 video mixer.
8. Where have you VJed?
Too many events to list them all! Favourites have been Video Combustion, the Big Day Out (Boiler Room and Reel Room), Swarm, Yak Butter, Freaky Loops 97-01, Revolution 69, Freedom 2000, Bug records launch, Liquid Labrynth events including Life the Universe and Everything, and 2001: a bush odyssey. For more, check out the archive on our website!
9. Where can we check you out in the future?
Our next live show will be at the Reception,
Saturday 28th July, which will be the first
We're currently managing a residency of video performance acts at GAS nightclub on Saturdays for Progress, in which we bring in guest VJs in addition to performing live ourselves. Check 3d world for details...
There's also the finale show of the Yak Secret Technology Tour, sometime in August. Check our site for upcoming shows or info about live video performance: www.trl.com.au