Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The “new primitive” methods in the age of digital technologies – a review of Ana Carvalho’s VJing practice by Magda Tyzlik-Carver

At the first event, MOD Shed, organised by the collective Art in Hidden Places of Falmouth each member of the collective contributed a piece of work (link to MOD event).
Among them was a collaboration between Ben Carver and Ana Carvalho, which was a DJ/VJ live performance.

This, however, was not the kind of VJ performance that is ubiquitous to a nightclub setting. The event took place at Falmouth Wharves, a run down semi industrial space which has survived the redevelopment of the waterfront at Falmouth.
Neither was this the type of VJing which could fall into the traps of: macho battle, technology leading technique, the industrial branding of practice.

On the contrary Carvalho's VJ performance made full use of the industrial but intimate space. The half hour piece presented in this ideal setting created the atmosphere of the personal conversation. This was achieved through the music selected and played by the DJ and the real time drawings and paintings improvised by Carvalho. By making public this exchange between sound and image, the viewer was invited to join an intimate dialogue, which allowed her/him to connect individually with the ambience created by the work.

Carvalho uses technologies not normally associated with the practice of today’s VJ. So far she has not utilised the usual VJing tools: the pre-packaged software and hardware. In this performance she made use of Photoshop as a performance instrument bringing out the process of constructing images as a real time event. This in itself becomes an inversion of the intentionality behind the software, which seems to be subversive and perverse characteristic of Carvalho’s practice.

Her most recent work in the "VJ" arena uses even more primitive techniques. As large corporations produce more and more "off the shelf" real time products, Carvalho has adopted elements of early video art approaches, rejecting the use of video images in favour of mixing colour and form live.
The effect is very different to the usual fast-cutting, filtered graphic images which often can be seen in clubs.

Carvalho maintains in her VJing practice an intimacy using new/old video-art and performance methods.
The emotional impact of this on an audience, in its honesty and its determination to make visible its own means of production, brings life to the relationship between the viewer and the work. This can never be achieved by more commercial packages.

Carvalho, who is also an internet artist, investigates in her work the possibilities of bringing digital technology closer into the realm of an everyday viewer. She is able to achieve this aim through her decision to make her private explorations public and VJing is one means that searches the possible connections.

See also VJ Theory website for more information about VJ practice.


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