Visual wizardry at work

Colourful tunes
Last Updated 21 January 2016, 18:33 IST

They unite the senses and inculcate synesthesia in a positive way among the audience. Unlike video jockeys who are known to introduce music during a show, visual jockeys (also known as VJs) create an image for electronic sounds at music gigs. Growing in popularity for their creative visuals, they are becoming the masters who take music fans on a technological meditative journey!

While a DJ takes the centre stage in any electronic music fest by manipulating the audio, a visual jockey is seen behind the screen manipulating the visuals and syncing them with the audio. Imagine a DJ console with no projectors to pitch and flip the visuals on the backdrop. Sounds incomplete, right?

The performative art of a visual jockey might not be as well-known and popular as that of a disc jockey. Nevertheless, a music event is incomplete without visuals playing in the background, which is why the demand for visual jockeys in electronic music festivals is growing by the day. While the stream is offbeat and still has a dearth of people traversing this path, the City has quite a few number of visual artistes who have spread their fame across the country for their unmatched creatives.

Known to be the pioneer in the visual jockeying field, Harish Kumar is the most sought-after VJ who deftly works around creating visuals, not just in the electronic music world, but also in the world of classical music and very recently, in product launches, film screenings and IPL matches. “I dived into the field nine years ago, when this art was less known, with back support from Vachan Chinnappa. A popular drum and bass DJ, he guided me on creatives that I could work on for his club performances,” recalls Harish.

With no online support of videos to refer to (unlike today’s time), Harish spent hours together understanding the concept of single and multiple screens and began working with Resolume — one of the early VJ softwares. “Before even plugging on the system, a VJ is required to spend quality time with the DJ before a gig and get the key lyrics and track lists to initiate the content for the visuals,” he explains. With the paradigm of the music conceptualised, he works towards syncing the best of visuals with the musical beats, resulting in an audio-visual therapeutic experience. 

Another veteran in the field, VJ Zombie has kept his hands busy working on creative visuals for the past five years. With training from the internet, he explains, “I’ve been using Resolume Arena, MadMapper and the Adobe suite softwares for my works. The visuals I make take inspiration from music. Apart from that, I do have a minimal style of animation inspired from German minimalism and visual artists like Pfadfinderei and Ali Demirel.” With no two compositions of his shows the same,  he creates new layers keeping in mind the music being played for the night and syncs the visuals. He adds, “There is a need to understand the music that the artiste is going to play and create content accordingly. The process of making it depends on what you’re seeing in your head when you listen to a track.”

While the veterans are sought-after, there are also a number of amateurs in the field, whose main focus is to uplift their performance through igniting the visual senses. Abhijith, the vocalist of a psychedelic band ‘Mind Map’, is also a visual artiste who focuses on creating visuals for his band’s gigs. He explains, “Our gig felt incomplete without the visual projection, which is why I started off making visuals. I just work around the painting done by one of our troop member Kiran and convert them into digital format and make the visuals.” With live painting taking place simultaneously during the band’s performance, Abhijith makes conceptual visuals that blend with the tracks they perform.
Professional or amateurs, visual jockeys are rocking the City with their creatives and are taking the world of music to the next level.

(Published 21 January 2016, 15:55 IST)

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