thats the invert button, in real life.
thats the invert button, in real life.
highlight of mapping was seeing franz’s ‘euphorie’ performance in the flesh, or rather, in the light. its yet to grow to a cohesive, flowing performance, but just to look into their laboratory was quite the experience. its the band you’d expect to see if a bladerunner nightclub scene were filmed, but that somehow makes it sound like its derivative: quite the opposite.
mapping finally broke beyond performances and gallery to make a serious go of some kind of joint project / residency. pitching up after the d-fuse performance, i got to hang out on the night before their big evening. the timeline stuck to the wall was a recent innovation, apparently… made me smile.
may wouldn’t be the same without the annual pilgrimage to the excellent mapping festival. fourth time running now, having played as part of narrative lab performances and workshops, then journalism, and last year doing a workshopped kinetxt performance. this time, its as part of d-fuse, performing particle.
as i write this, i still haven’t got the shots of mapping from d-fuse hq, but just found this one on the internet. its by mapping’s genius photographer ork, check out his portfolio of mappings past and present.
nothing better than a week in and out of coding, performance and nightclubs, to see the night through to a beautiful sunny morning on the river. swimming in the crystal clear water was cleansing more than literally, even if for some it wasn’t quite the idea…
my first mapping was marked by meeting franz and pier of exyzt, and it was great to see them back with a facade projection piece. using some custom playback/pinning software franz had rustled up (pictured, franz aligning it up - the outlines are lit on the building), it was both refreshing and surprising to see a true audio-visual piece, where the graphics and audio were two sides of the same thing. surprising that at mapping, a touchpoint of curated vj/av showcasing, this was the first i’d seen that did it for me in that way.
and while we’re at it, check their new venture 1024d
beat torrent cancelled themselves in a fit of divadom, so enter “torrent de bites, un duo vj/dj aussi impromptu qu’enthousiaste” aka ilan and andré of le zoo. ably assisted by the vj exoskeleton craziness of vj lupin and oblivion, disaster turned to triumph and a real highlight of the festival. although it all pales next to this.
this installation - “inside out” by klif - was really nice, cameras and cathode ray tubes feeding back on themselves but achieved with a beautiful restraint of motion and palette. the key was in the cameras being mounted on slowly oscillating platforms, so that with the projector canvas spread wide, trails of repeats would swing across in slow motion. i also noticed some video level-adjustments boxes, which probably are essential to getting such a refined collage.
that was the positive, here’s the negative. well, it was an outdoor performance, and it rained. which sucks, and its a shame that because of rain cover the audience couldn’t crowd around us performing it, seeing the creative hub and being able to join in with our text clients and general heckling to do this idea or that. but that is life.
what i feel is the real shame, is that despite the promise seen in rehearsal the performance didn’t pick up on the storytelling thread, which is perhaps one of the consequences of having to start earlier. this was to allow the other (truly open-air) act the chance to perform once the rain had passed, and it meant we started in sudden chaos rather than well briefed order, and with me dealing with an unpaired wii-mote that refused to play nice.
similarly because of the earlier start, we didn’t get a slot to properly tweak the canvas to the wall either, so the text was too small for the amount of relief texture we were projecting onto, and our texts weren’t exactly aligned with the wall edge… and so on, its easy to get hyper-critical about these things when you’ve so much time invested in it. i should say that the tech backing was fantastic - shout out to fanny - with the projectors being a dream to use, so bright, crisp and colour accurate.
however, the image quality speaks for itself, so i should stop whining and wait to see it objectively through the footage shot by the mapping documentation team.
after three days of prep, the performance. to quote the internet:
“It is a beautiful project and one that brings together three local illustrators and a poet for the festival performance. Despite some last minute technical difficulties - including rain forcing the start time forward by almost two hours, the show delivers with some moments of true beauty and the six busily active artists and live soundtrack make for an absorbing spectacle.” - lucy benson
lucy wrote that for friend sean healy’s skynoise blog and publication back in oz. so not exactly impartial, but on the flip side that should be in print!
from rehearsal to the performance proper. one of the challenges for us of projecting onto a building rather than a cinematic screen is that you don’t have the clear frame for your ‘canvas’, rather you’re just lighting up bits of a facade: type in the void. this gives a problem for making an art-pad the backdrop of your canvas: you don’t want a bright white rectangle somewhere on your building, you want the lit pen-strokes floating in the wider surface. so here we are for one part of the performance proper with our illustrators experimenting with black paper and tipp-ex (correction fluid) type pens.
and here is the kinetxt cut-out submitter app, one button to make the tethered camera shoot and load it into photoshop, and the other to drop the photoshopped image onto for submission to the kinetxt canvas.
i was really happy having created it the night before, a few delays and furrowed brows but essentially a few hours work to make just what i wanted. this was, however, until i saw the artist’s laptop it was to sit on, which didn’t quite look right. “ah… its running tiger. and this is written using leopard obj-c grammar and frameworks. ‹expletive›”. cue legacy re-write on the morning of performance.
its the day of the performance, and we set kinetxt up in one of the communal rooms of îlot 13 to rehearse.
we do a few ten minute tries, which really give some hope that this could go really well. my favourite memory is seeing one of these start with the outline of an island, and the performance takes the form of a kind of evolving map of utopia. that, and seeing the difference one of the innovations for this performance makes, the ‘cut-outs’ which allow the illustrators to draw characters and tweaked-through-photoshop-whatevers into kinetxt. having pen drawings cut-out and then soft-shadowed with vibrant colours, composited into the kinetxt canvas really opens things visually.
though, of course, it can’t always be rehearsal: kitchen coding called.
the îlot 13 complex has the écurie bar, and what a perfect place. couldn’t resist this shot, seeing the guy reading the hardback comic they had lying there, roses behind and, well, it goes on. too perfect.
one of the ideas of kinetxt is starting off from a blank sheet of paper, story unwritten, and the way I see it one way of increasing the quality or interest in the resultant performance is using the context of the performance as catalyst or reference for whatever emerges. so mapping gave us a great hand in programming us as an outdoor projection in the courtyard of îlot 13, a place with lots of history and spirit. we were projecting on the back walls of one of the blocks, which instantly gives ideas of x-ray views through to the people living there, and the whole complex is a kind of utopia, being a former squat that came to an agreement with the city council, and instead of the standard cycle of demolition and profiteering redevelopment seen world-over, an association was formed to develop the block in the interests of its inhabitants. and what a wonderful job they’ve done, it is quite the urban oasis, both smart and informal.
and so we met there, talked through the history, looked at the wall we were to project on, doodled themes we could explore and so on, captured a little by the photo above.
after arriving at this year’s mapping festival and having the plan-the-week meeting with andrew, its the next day and we’re meeting the artists. mapping have curated seemingly a dream-team for us, which really fits the idea we proposed of emphasising the idea of a ‘band’ coming together to tell a story. we’ve always run kinetxt as a longer-form audience-led event/environment, and for this performance we’ve brought it down to 45 minutes and we’re really hoping to somehow create the equivalent of a band performance, but instead of guitars and drums, we have illustrators, a poet, and a backing setup of me, andrew and james of novak, and lots of laptops with lots of custom code and things hanging off them.
introducing the band -
and as a footnote, preceeding that meeting with andrew came writing lists a week before a performance is always scary writing lists a week before a performance is always scary note to self: before people like @danwinckler trying to download your release, check it is actually attached to the page. note to self: before people like @danwinckler trying to download your release, check it is actually attached to the page.
writing lists a week before a performance is always scary— toby*spark (@tobyspark)
writing lists a week before a performance is always scary— toby*spark (@tobyspark) May 8, 2009 ">May 8, 2009 %22%3EMay%208,%202009%3C/a%3E%3C/blockquote%3E%0A%3Cscript%20async%20src=%22//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js%22%20charset=%22utf-8%22%3E%3C/script">two
note to self: before people like @danwinckler trying to download your release, check it is actually attached to the page.— toby*spark (@tobyspark)
following teatrino were the erasers, which was a great thing to witness but fell short of the ambition i had for it watching the start. they had a great table full of things, all categorised into rows, and it started magnificently with a really nice motion graphic triplehead vj thing that looked like we were in for a real engaging narrative or development, and was all the better when you realised half the content was actually coming from live filming up front, with performers and cameras manipulating print-outs, ink and whatnot into a crisp graphic whole. trouble was, this was so perfect to my eyes that when their next ‘track’ was a real dive aesthetically and musically, and it became clear that it was going to be improvised chaos riffing against well-tread themes without saying anything new or interesting, i felt really let down despite many compelling moments of live action that followed.
its in their artistic statement to have an ‘open loop’ between the back-row vjs and musicians and front-row performers and cameras, but ultimately i think they would really benefit from an outside director coming in and creating a focused show out of their themed chaos.
great performance by teatrino elettrico on the sunday night, in the zoo nightclub innovatively cut-up sideways into an audio-visual theatre.
an audio-visual performance in the truest sense, with all audio and visual generated by teatrino’s contraptions of wheels, nails, whirring electronics and so on, and captured by microphone and camera. its not a unique idea, but they did it really well. what really transformed the performance for me was their embracing of rhythm in the audio - i can only take so much electro-acoustic drone, and this turned drone to music for me - and the triplehead montage of cameras.
who would have known that this year’s fashion is to have your vj name made into a big blingin’ buckle. hi-res meet mxzehn, face-off (or rather, well, what xxx-off would you call that…!)
Mapping: VJing and Audio-Visual Festival; 10th-20th April
The first two Mapping Festivals quickly became legendary. An audio line-up worthy of a music festival, a cream of visualists married to a playground of seemingly a thousand projectors, and the whole programme rammed through one venue over one weekend. Complete with dormitories above and sofa-strewn cinema to the side, the party didn’t stop.
Now in its fourth edition, Mapping has changed into a two/three week showcase split between the original venue ‘le zoo, pour les animeaux nocturnes’ and Geneva’s modern arts centre hosting gallery installations and an audio-visual stage. Having left the particle systems, avant-garde interactivity and deep geekage of Node to come to Mapping, it was quite a jump to walk into a room literally full of arse-slaps with the Chicks On Speed inaugurating their gallery installation “Butt Slap Bongo” with a suitably frenetic performance. Another interesting installation, in entirely different ways, was “News Jockey“, an informatic spread tiling across a whole room. You typed in your headline, it did the rest. It was also the logical successor to last year’s “web-jockey” installation, delivering on the promise shown there: always nice to see generational progress, directly related or not.
Still in the modern arts centre, the audio-visual stage saw a beautifully contemplative performance by Scanner and Olga Mink that is hopefully the start of an ongoing piece, and also sees Olga breaking out of her graphic comfort zone. The last performance of the opening weekend was a journey into the mind of Raphaël, a renegade filmmaker and long time Narrative Lab favourite. Hard to describe, and as far as I’m aware only experienced at the odd festival (self-promotion, website? pah!), if you see Raphael [ES] on the programme, just go. Crazy, wonderful, not entirely to be understood, but definite in the feeling that you viscerally touched something.
With the first weekend over, and Vision’r clashing with the second, it was time to leave. And also, who would stay for both? Which is perhaps the issue Mapping faces, being effectively two mini-festivals without anything to make the week/two weeks a compelling whole. But if the organisers can do this, I’m sure they’ll work it out. No write-up, however subjective and under-representative, could go by without a mention of Mapping’s 8bit night, with bubblyfish/chika/akira/etc all rocking out beyond their laptops. The special mention has to go to Meneo however, an 8bit musician who tours with entter providing an a/v whole. As you’d expect, the graphics reinforced the 8bit theme and a Meneo identity, but there were real moments of something way beyond that, with a whole world being created and stories spun. Oh, and lots of nakedness at the end: A visual performance of other sorts, and what was it with nakedness and performance at Mapping?
…struggled out of super-comfy last night hotel bed to the airport, to find the flight delayed by four hours. urrrrrrrrgh. anyway, big props to all involved for a really well run festival with many delights. i had a great week and things have been pushed forward. onwards!
every participant at the festival gets the in-house software, m8. in a box. proper.
cheaper than a laser engraving machine, you can get a machine that will cut paper as if you were just printing something from illustrator. pass t-shirt transfer material through it, and you can make custom t-shirts for everybody. which they did, supercool. and the left-overs make a nice sideline in their club nights too…
heroic all-day performance by ilan katin, based around live drawing. magic moments with with kids in the audience shouting out their suggestions and guessing the form taking shape, ilan writing and rubbing out responses… this dragon wasn’t a crocodile, but you had to be there.
a four hour talk by the man behind the core, yves, although my french doesn’t go that far by a long way. my interest is that they haven’t solved the magic ‘how do we deal with alpha in vj clips’ either, there just isn’t the right codec out there. an open source project for the mac vj world?
three days of share, open media jamming. part of the setup is a widescreen projection of three 4x3 projectors/screens, which you can drive from a laptop with a matrox triplehead2go… very nice.
geneva turns out to have wifi in its parks. fantastic… unless your battery is dead. just need to have a powergrid in the grass now.
some beers in a sunny park / swiss flags all around
four days in non-stop festival mode: time for a break. bus to the end of the line, cross the border, and up la montagne.
sunny lunchtime with an afternoon to play with, at the cafe alu. davide here saying goodbye to boris.
exyzt rock. period. more on them to come.
davide in audiovisual / electronicagraphic synchronicity.
five screens, two narrative lab navigators, and the night starts early at the contemporary arts centre. story collector is a beautiful set, david last and mr projectile crisp over the pa, the mix working well, tag team keeping the story and aesthetic tracked.
back to geneva for the mapping festival. a narrative lab performance a night for the first four days, opening with the premiere of autometa by paul mumford aka visualnaut. suffice to say, been avidly waiting to see this emerge from its year+ of production, and it didn’t disappoint. totally captivated for its hour run, like watching a film… but not a film. awesome.
mapping and modul8’s boris, letting it rip late into the afterparty
huzzah. the narrative lab proposal for the mapping festival has been accepted, and i was even in geneva at the time so had dinner with boris and ilan. there’ll be three narrative led vj sets and two big talks by us, so i’ll be performing ‘rbn_esc’ as the vj film example to my presentation on ‘live cinema and vjing’.