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Yochanan Rauert a.k.a Yo Yochi knows how things work inside the international VJing community. In this interview he opens the secrets of successful networking, shares his software story, recommends the best sources of new media art related information, gives a brief yet ultimate guide on glitch art for beginners and so much more. Continue reading!
Lumen: How did you start your journey in VJing?
Yochanan: Somehow visuals have always been a part of my life. My mom is an editorial designer for ELLE magazine and my dad is a photographer and owner of an artsy coffee shop called Café Treibsand in the Ruhr area in Germany. Therefore, I was growing up with painting and photography, later in my teen years I had my mom’s power mac and did experimental photoshop drawings. At school I had friend who was doing obscure trash movies, that was my first real contact with doing moving images, writing a script, acting, filming and all that stuff.
Lumen: Remember your first show? What was it?
Yochanan: In the end of the 90ies at my dad’s Café there were converts, cabaret events and movie screenings of shorts films, media arts and live performances. While my dad was doing the business, I took over the video tech rack more often around 2000/2001. The first really big show was a gig in 2001 with my dad at a birthday party at the Institute for Space Research / Observatory Bochum, which is a 20m Radom (a dome with a Radar Radio Telescope) made of white polyester skin. We had 6 or 8 projectors (800-1500 lumens, which was good back then) projecting onto the hull, a huge stack of analogue equipment, VHS players, switchers, monitors and tapes with Barbarella, Space and NASA footage. I think this still is one of the greatest venues I have visualized at.
Lumen: Which show are you proudest of?
Yochanan: Well, I didn’t do too many big projects as the town where I live is a mere small students’ town. But I can say that I really did every (around 30) venue in this town and I try to travel to see and project at other places as well. Two years ago, I have won my first cup for the best stage at MediMeisterschaften 2016, which is the Football Championships of German medical students. It was like spring break. Last year I did the visuals for a 30.000 people crowd with bands like East17, Dr.Alban, Caught in the Act, Snap. I never would have expected to do the visuals alongside these music bands of my childhood. My greatest exhibition so far was in a church in the city center of my town. I put up a wall of 20 TVs and many video mixers in front of the chapel. It was a TV altar, everybody had to look at the TVs. It really was a philosophical and religious experience for me. Who’s your God? Praise the Glitch!
Lumen: I love your glitch art experiments! This visual language seems to never go out of fashion. Please, describe the basics for those our readers who want to start experimenting with glitch visuals, too. How to start?
Yochanan: Classics are always fashionable. I really like to work with feedback circuits and feedback loops, because the underlying theory of cybernetics about self-regulating systems and their comparisons between human and robot (painted art vs machine generated art) is kind of fascist, but the images are super trippy and colorful. It’s a strange and appealing contrast between theory and practice. I myself started with VHS players and Video effects devices, I have built an analog synthesizer back in 2002, so it was a logical development for me to circuit bent my video equipment to build a video synthesizer. Today however fortunately you don’t need chunky equipment anymore, you are no more reliant to the ghost in the machine. With a computer you can datamosh and corrupt jpegs, bitmaps, mpegs and other digital file formats. Easy and rewarding is working with still images in hex or text editors like HexFiend, HexEdit or Wordpad: Save a headerless Photoshop Raw, rename the ending to .txt, edit some letters in Wordpad and re-import it into Photoshop. You can also do data-as-sound- editing with programs like Audacity, just import an image file and apply some audio effects like echo. I like the aesthetics of Pixel Sorting with Processing, check the scripts by Kim Asendorf. If you want to work with moving images, there’s stuff like ffmpeg, AviGlitch and many others. You can do 3d glitches with Blender, GLSL shaders and effects can be used in programs like Visution Mapio, Unity or TouchDesigner in real time. Currently I am working on new FreeFrame GL effects form ShaderToy shaders for real time glitching in Resolume or Magic, works beautifully.
Lumen: That’s the ultimate guide for beginners, thank you! Share your software story: what you tried, what you like.
Yochanan: I am a PC user since the Power Mac back in the 90ies sucked and there were no cheap TV cards. When I went from analog to digital I tried about 30 programs that were available back then, Isadora, Aestesis, AVScratch, FLxER and even dildoscreen (yes, lol). I got stuck with Resolume and the flash library from flxer.net (thanks Nikky & Gianluca!). Today I really like to work with Mapio, vvvv, Daz3d, AE, Resolume and most important Spout, which is the Syphon-like texture sharing framework for Windows.
Lumen: Now let’s talk about your media project Visual Society. Tell me how you created and developed this platform.
Yochanan: About 2010 VJcentral, VJforums and VJNews went down because the scene was moving to Facebook. As there was no active and open resources web pages anymore, I started posting stuff on my blog cool-shit.de and in 2011 established visual-society.com to do that in English with a proper name. Back then I also wanted to issue a magazine once or twice a year, but I have had little support and no active scene around. It stayed a side project as time is rare, and writing takes a lot of time.
Lumen: Yeah, I noticed you update the website on rare occasions, but your Facebook page is always alive. Did you decide to switch to social media content?
Yochanan: Well, though the motivation for VS was to make information accessible without logins keep sharing stuff to the fb page once in a while. There is so much great stuff going on I don’t wanna spam my private profile.
Lumen: What are your favorite sources to read news and articles about VJing and contemporary art?
Yochanan: I am very happy with the VJ groups, VJ Union, Glitch Artist Collective and Tachyons+ on Facebook, everybody is very helpful and inspiring. Sometimes I also like to read ChristieDigital, e-flux and Hacker newsletter, TED, DLD, Lumen Magazine, NerdCore, vvvv, Spout and Resolume user forums and other more in-scene- pages, because there is the real artists writing, not the PR.
Lumen: You’re also the press officer at the art organization Shiny Toys. What exactly do you do within this project?
Yochanan: Shiny Toys Festival had the tagline “for audio visual experiments”; but since I was playing there in 2011 and then joined the crew we regularly had experimental acts that were not audiovisual. Now we are focussing on “time based experimental culture”; say experimental performances, no matter if sound, video, AV, sensoric experience or experimental films. We are a very small team, until 3 years ago we were three VJs: Jan Ehlen, a graphic and lights artist, Jerome Krüger a 3d mapping artist and me, Yochanan Rauert. Now we are five or six with the guys from experimental music label Ana Ott plus technical staff. As a pressesprecher, I care for PR: reviewing artists texts, posting to websites and Facebook, writing newsletters, taking photos and videos, going to festivals to spread the word and to see what’s going on out there.
Lumen: In your opinion, what’s the role of networking for VJs?
Yochanan: The VJ scene is small and very fluid. There are many amateurs and semi-pros who often don’t know or care for the differences between GPUs or DVI adapters until they need them. I think that is because many visual artists can’t make a living from VJing so they do it for 3 or 5 years, maybe only for their party crew during their Uni time, and then get a real job. But it is the greatest influencers on
contemporary media arts, because there are a lot of interesting small experimental projects. The big VJs usually don’t need much help as they go with pro tech, they only have their rig. To network in this scene means establishing stable sources of information, to help each other getting projects done, inspiring connections.
Lumen: Can I build a successful career in VJing if I don’t like making new friends and enjoy a sociopath style of living? There’re a lot of shy yet talented geeks… How should they act on the market?
Yochanan: I can’t say VJing is for normal people. VJing is a stressful and sometimes very emotional job with lots of drinks and stroboscopic fx. You need to be socializing. If you are an asshole in a club you won’t make friends nor get booked. You shouldn’t yell at the securities. Don’t be frustrated when the photographer asks to strobe some more to brighten up the room. If you have a drug addiction you might burn out fast. If you are a super geek programmer not interested in loud music, then probably VJing is not the right thing for you anyway. Apart from that: stay professional, be (not too) serious about what you are doing, know your stuff, be strong in negotiations, talk with the people, shake hands, askaskask, get a crew you can rely on, think about what you will be doing, get routine, test everything, ask again, use your brain, rtfm, prepare lists, get drunk and stay sober enough to not lose your shit.
Lumen: Ha, that’s the ultimate guide! What do you like and dislike about working in nightclubs?
Yochanan: I am doing Visuals for 15 years, I really don’t like bad DJs playing too loud (the bass needs bounce, not red). DJs that don’t greet the VJ responsible for doing a nice animation of their names are assholes, even if they don’t know about that (“Bro, I didn’t even notice there were visuals”).
Lumen: Would you like to do more artsy stuff and work for museums and galleries?
Yochanan: I really love to play live visuals, because it can be good or bad and not doing it perfectly pushes to make it better in that live situation. Adrenaline. Apart from doing club visuals I try to do artsy and relevant stuff like the installation “Traceland* all fields are mandatory” that I did with my crew Morons of Motion and the creative coder Thomas Sanchez Lengeling. More complex stuff is hard to do if you are working more or less alone in a small town. Not only that it is good to have a crew to
get inspiration and motivation, but you also need funding to make a living and know-how. I was working at a theatre for five years, it wasn’t that easy. To work in a museum or gallery would be interesting, but it should be a big venue with many projects.
Lumen: Who are your favorite artists working in the similar fields?
Yochanan: I really like the work of Pussycrew, FkS, Gábor Szűcs, Wolfgang Spahn, Lynn Jarvis (coder), Logan Owlbeemoth, Karl Klomp, Gijs Gieskes, DVJ Bazooka (honorable mention).
Lumen: Billion likes or billion dollars?
Yochanan: Fame doesn’t buy food. Money can’t buy happiness (can’t do without both).