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©2002 Cindi Drennan

Following is a brief review by Cindi Drennan, of 'Dawn of the VJ - Knocking down the walls between club and cinema.' a VJ seminar held at metro screen in February 2002.

The seminar was promoted with the following information: 'New technologies are changing the nature of popular culture and live performance. The VJ who samples pictures and sound is steadily replacing the DJ as the premier entertainer on the club scene. What are the implications for narrative and pleasure as the boundaries between club and cinema dissolve?' Monday, February 18th, 6.15 - 9.15pm Metro Screen, Sydney Film Centre, Paddington Town Hall, Corner of Oatley and Oxford St. Paddington, 2021

I attended this event with enthusiasm, because the speakers included Kirsten Bradley and Sean Healy, both young video acts who have been fairly prolific over the last couple of years. Plus Tom Ellard (Severed Heads) and John Jacobs (Video Subvertigo) who I'd say are both veterans of the genre.

Sean Healy kicked off the evening with an overview of software and VJing tips. The audience of around 35 members were given a whirlwind tour of software for the mac, including arkaos expose, motion dive, RCfuse, and many more. Kirsten Bradley aka Cicada talked about her getting into video performance, and gave some very useful advice for beginners. Basically to go out and buy the cables and adaptors you need rather than finding out you need them at 11PM when everything is closed... and to avoid overexpectation of kuedos for being the VJ at a gig. Kirsten also talked about Stealth Video Ninja and some of her experiences as a VJ.

Tom Ellard began with a wry comment on the title of the seminar 'Dawn of the VJ'... He and Stephen Jones were building video synths, lugging video rigs and performing live visuals back in the 70's... so it was fair for him to point out that this is hardly the Dawn of the VJ! But Tom was very encouraging of the software and hardware developments that have taken place in the last decade. Thirty years ago it was an achievement just to create live visuals, now the focus has changed to be about why we do it rather than how.

John Jacobs of Video Subvertigo talked about his interests in video art, what motivated him to begin making scratch videos. He demonstrated some of the devices that he and Ian Andrews built for experimenting with video art. A lengthy discussion ensued about the software and hardware available, the networks and support for VJs, and some of the participants adjourned to the pub to continue the dialogue. For me it was a fascinating history lesson and revelation about two video artists I admire (Tom and John) and I am glad the session was documented. It was also valuable to have Enda, Kirsten and Sean share their experiences and knowledge, certainly for people who are just starting to get into VJing and wanted to know the basic nuts and bolts.

Speaker info:Kirsten Bradley aka Cicada
Kirsten functions as an artist working primarily in digital media, currently focusing on video performance art and video-based installations. Operating as Cicada, performances range from StealthVideoNinja [a mobile activist video unit] to theatre gigs at the Sydney Opera House and from Gatecrasher Summer Sound System to the Combustion video art event.

Sean Healy
Originally one of the founders of Octapod and the Electrofringe Festival, Sean Healy has been performing his Vjing magic for the past couple of years up and down the NSW coast. Sean is an ardent fan of cutting edge digital vjing software and contributes to several contemporary art periodicals on this topic.

John Jacobs is a veteran of the Sydney activist scene and has been involved with Cat TV, Cal@lyst, and Sydney Indymedia. He began his VJing activities with Video Subvertigo and together with partner Ian Andrews has pioneered the development of Vjing in Sydney, specialising in visuals with a political bent.

Chaired by Enda Murray, Digital Media Co-ordinator at Metro Screen Enda Murray is himself a veteran VJ, having performed at many seminal English venues including Manchester's Hacienda and London's Heaven plus a host of muddy free traveller festivals and a guest spot with Coldcut in Sydney in 1998.