VJam Theory: Collective Writings on Realtime Visual Performance

eBook (PDF), 62 Pages
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VJam Theory (collective writings on realtime visual performance) presents the major concerns of practitioners and theorists of realtime media under the categories of performance, performer and interactors, audiences and participators. The volume is experimental in its attempt to produce a collective theoretical text with a focus on a new criticality based on practitioner/artist theory in which artist/practitioners utilise theoretical models to debate their practices. For more information visit
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  • By realtime
    Oct 15, 2009
    "VJam Theory " Theory in Motion VJ Theory (eds), Vjam Theory: Collective Writings on Realtime Visual Performance (Falmouth, UK: realtime books, 2008) Robin Mackay Performances featuring realtime manipulation of audiovisual material have a surprisingly long history. But the emergence of new technologies over the past decade has accelerated what was once an onerous and unwieldy business for the dedicated and seriously hardware-literate into a sleek digital affair. In many cases, prominent performers have been instrumental in developing new software, effects once painstakingly achieved with heaps of gear can now be outstripped with the stroke of a laptop key, and this has favoured increasing experimentation. There is still no rulebook, but a growing body of artisanal knowledge has been built on by successive generations of VJs. The old guard will always find willing customers for its random slideshows and psychedelic oil wheels, but there is no doubting that live digital... More > audiovisual manipulation can now create sense and sensation in a controlled and meaningful way, using complex logics irreducible to those of cinema or TV. With practitioners already racing to catch up with these infinite possibilities, Vjam Theory finds them also trying to sketch out theoretical frameworks appropriate to the new technologies. VJ Theory was created in 2005 by Brendan Byrne and Ana Carvalho as a virtual resource for realtime media performers, who often found themselves working in isolation and without common references to discuss their practice. In Vjam Theory – their first publication – the now extensive and diverse international collective engage in informal and wide-ranging discussions on the definition, the theory and practice, and the future of live AV performance. The opening theme is that of a crisis of identity: Defining their practice through the element of performance or live interaction allows the participants to distinguish it from TV or film-making and from most audiovisual installation art; but this very ‘liveness’ immediately becomes a problem. The question of whether the VJ ought to be seen to be ‘playing’ live recalls similar problems with the performance of electronic music – it’s not always gripping to watch someone staring intently at their laptop, and yet the fact that one is experiencing a realtime performance rather than just playback undoubtedly transforms the experience of an audience. The difficulty for VJs, especially those working in clubs, seems to be that whilst affirming the ambient, immersive nature of the experience they are trying to create, they also crave some audience validation of the skill and individual style of their performances, which by all accounts are intense affairs: Among the most passionate and compelling sections of Vjam Theory are the enthusiastic descriptions of the experience of Vjing – the immersion in a space of infinite possibilities and virtual connections, the immediacy and urgency of a knife-edge visual ‘jazz improvisation’,[p.27] ‘fascinatingly complex and yet … primal’.[p.12] But this enthusiasm is accompanied by uncertainty as to whether this buzz is being communicated. Aiming at the ‘pure magic’[p.27] that occurs at ‘those absolute peaks, when it all really syncs in deep’,[p.12] the performers are never sure to what extent the audience appreciates the unique combination of rhythmic sense and technical intelligence that goes into making this happen (‘are watching images the audience’s main idea?’[p.13]; ‘can the audience tell?’[p.45]). VJTheory is at Robin Mackay is a philosopher, translator, and editor of the journal Collapse (< Less
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Product Details

first edition
realtime books
September 30, 2011
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786.76 KB
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Printable? Yes
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