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Some time ago Lumen scribes an interview with interesting and very serious persona in the VJ world – Mikael Wehner, graphic designer and a visual artist, a co-founder of the VJ community Swedish VJ Union, he’s located in Stockholm, Sweden. And now it’s a high time to post every question and every answer of Mikael Wehner.
Lumen: Tell us some facts about yourself – how have you stood on the visual artist way? Was it a dream or a chance? Please, describe your way as a VJ and your nowadays projects. How do you evaluate your development as an artist?
Mikael: I discovered VJ-ing during my graphic design studies in California. I was introduced by Marius Watz, a great electronic artist, into VJ-ing. It has been a slow and steady process for me. I’ve never gone for quantity. So I’ve done interesting collaborations with DJs and music producers which have led me to some interesting insights.
Lumen: As a co-founder of Sweden VJ Union, which tendencies of VJ community will you mark? Are there negative features? How VJs can prevent any “low blows” in VJ business and art?
Mikael: There are less venues focusing on VJ-ing here in Sweden compared to earlier. While one great place opens up, two closes. LED screens are very common at concerts and big TV events, so in way we see more visuals in media but less visuals in club culture. We don’t have a very large VJ scene here. On the positive side, the last few years VJ-ing and video mapping techniques has been used at most of the design schools and since a few years back there’s a dedicated audio-visual production program at the University of Dalarna. So there’s a bunch of new talent entering the scene with fresh energy and new ideas and that gives me a lot of hope for the future.
I’m also engaged in the ever growing international VJ community. As for the VJ Unions we try to divide it up into different areas of interest to spark more focused discussion. We have had some challenges on Facebook with some members posting the same content to all VJ groups. Since VJs often are member of several groups, they get hit with the same posts over and over. While it’s technically possible to block or hide certain users, people tend not to use those features. And some of the information is still relevant but is better displayed in the right context.
As a group admin my frustration has been when companies and organizations post blindly to all groups but not checking up on the response. We can all live alongside doing our things commercial, underground and in between. There is so much to learn from the reactions from the groups, good and bad – it’s free market research. If a post was not well received, take note of what the content was, the timing, the relevance to the group, the reaction from the group and adjust it the next time posting.
A similar thing happened when The LPM festival was using Hootsuite to push news to a bunch of media channels including all VJ related Facebook groups. This was not well received by the community and LPM was criticized for not having real people interacting with the community. This year I was contacted by a real person that informed me about the festival and asked me to post info in the proper channels. I don’t know if LPM has deserted Hootsuite entirely but the personal contact was there and felt nice and sincere.
The HootSuite is the most professional instrument for online informational campaign planning and LPM used it proper. In the other hand, we can assume that VJ Unions FB groups have own censure in case of quantity and frequency of posts. And it is quite right. We just have to remember that all cases are resolvable by the personal interference.
Lumen: What will the VJ World look like in 2025 in your opinion?
Mikael: Hard to say what will be hot in 2025. There are bendable screens, projectors are getting smaller and more light intense, hardware video mixers are getting redundant, it’s getting easier for people to make their own hardware and we see amazing software releases every month. Who knows what we will end up with in 2015?
Lumen: What do you advise for young VJs? Books, tutorials, practice, software and technical supply? What are the main problems for young talents rise and how they can defeat them?
Mikael: My advice for young VJs is to take the matter in your own hands. I encourage to create your own events, interact with other artists (young and old), make your own (projection) surfaces, collaborate, mix media, invent new things. The future is yours for the taking!
For beginners it’s often good to look at other artists to get a grasp of what styles of VJ-ing you like, what’s possible at the time and in what direction you’d like to develop your style. One way to do this is by checking up the relevant VJ software for your platform and scan the communities around each software for videos. That could tell what software to use and give some ideas on what content to create. Then try to develop that into a unique personal style.
But that approach is not right for all people. I’ve seen people secluding themselves from the scene using completely different references, “misusing” VJ software and coming up with really interesting output.
Some people like to stay away from the digital world and resort to analog video synthesis.
Don’t forget to meet likeminded people IRL. See other VJs perform, go to festivals, attend workshops co-operate with other artists.
Lumen: Please, announce for Lumen some festivals, events or parties we should attend.
Mikael: Resonate, Midi Hack, Katowice Street Festival (Yulian Sanchez Ojanen and I will support the artist NUG with some visual components).
Sponsor of Article: Vj Loops by LIME ART GROUP