interview with Vj Shoken (Gidon Schocken)

Visuals in clubs and especially in techno parties and events are commonplace but live mixing and sampling of video is still a rarity, although it’s certainly happening more and more. The  live visuals are evolving from a number of directions. Boundaries are blurry, and there is little consensus about what names mean: are you a VJ, video artist, film maker or something else? Unsurprisingly many people occupy more than one category.

You probably haven’t walked into a club recently and seen someone hunched over DVD decks and a vision mixer (partly because they are still very expensive), but there is a growing scene of VJs doing exactly this in the club environment and alternative spaces.There is also a commercial world that drives forward new technologies such as the increasingly prevalent DVD decks and the cutting edge displays that deliver 3D visuals and holograms. This big money sphere also encompasses the complex visuals that accompany stadium filling concerts from established artists.

Alongside the ‘VJing scene’ and the more commercial side of things is a third source of innovation and development: ‘AV art’. There is a distinctive continuum of individuals who are using new technologies, and abusing old technology, to produce installation works and bring interactivity and the avant garde to club nights. Add into the mix DJs who have started to stray into the visual world (viz. Roger Sanchez and Ferry Corsten), and the development of a version of Serato that allows scratching and syncing of video from standard decks, and it soon becomes clear that there’s a lot of boundaries converging on live visuals.

Today I am going to interview Vj Shoken (Gidon Schocken) from Tel Aviv -Israel  mostly because I admire his work and secondly because as a video artist and upcoming live visual performer I feel the need to share with you my questions on that innovative and avant guard trend in the club scene.

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1)Well Gidon, let s start this interview by telling us some things about you and how did you start your career as an audiovisual artist.

I started working at a small visual content studio at 2005, kind of by accident…. I just finished the army and was searching for an interesting job. I didn’t even know what Vjing was beforehand. I got into it pretty quickly, a few months of carrying around equipment, learning all the technical jargon, studying the different styles of the other Vjs. Then I started to take on venues by myself. I worked in the company for around two years and then decided to go study music more seriously, music has always been my main attraction. Sadly I could not juggle the two so I had to leave the studio and for the past three years I studied music production, and left the visual side of my brain to rest for a while. I graduated a few months ago, and now I’m working on combining my experience as a VJ and my musical aspirations so that it will become one unit.

2)Which is the kind of music that you get inspired more so to synthesize visually?Do you also make your own music?

I don’t think that there is a certain genre that I prefer, there is a whole musical spectrum that I enjoy listening to and that also inspires me visually, mostly experimental music. To the day I find myself more and more drawn towards noise and all of it’s sub-genres. For the past few years I have taken part in different musical collaborations, projects, bands etc. Recently I’ve left most of that behind and started to focus more on creating music alone, experimenting in different platforms and instruments, and of course importing my visual taste into it all. My latest clip called “Critters”  is the direction I’m leaning towards.

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3)Is there any technology coming up in terms of projections and holograms that you would like to build into a show and which technical equipment do you prefer to use?

I always enjoy experimenting, usually my thoughts are drawn towards what I project on: screens, objects etc.  My latest has been trying projecting on buildings and other urban surfaces also layers of mosquito nets to achieve a kind of 3d effect, I’m also working on building a screen In a V shape in front of the performer with a rear projection so that I can incorporate the movement of the performer into the live show. Regarding the equipment, I run Resolume Avenue on a macbook pro with the korg nano and a akai lpd 8 as controllers, western digital firewire hd and a recently purchased mitsubishi XD600u projector.

Do you make your own video footage or you prefer downloading and editing it?I saw that you like using stop motion clips as well as VA, a webcam that is strapped to your guitar.

I use a bit of everything in my sets. I recently moved to a house with a backyard and I enjoy filming all the different creatures that crawl and climb around my yard, one of my favourite was a huge caterpillar who suddenly appeared in the kitchen, I followed him around for a while with a camera and later edited him and all sorts of other creatures and use them in my sets. I also enjoy sampling vintage films, decomposing them and then combining them with different effects. I tend to use Jpegs of people a lot in my source materials, sometimes to kind of add a face to the result or just use them as background fillers. Quartz also comes to play sometimes, when I want to add 3d objects, cubes, spheres etc.  Usually my purpose is to integrate all of the above in order to create my own unique visuals, the end result is kind of “grimy hi-tech creatures” style. Regarding the webcam, it was used specially for the band Man 25 in which I played guitar. The webcam was attached to the guitar and filmed the audience during the performance. The final output was a combination of the constant movement of the guitar and the audience. This served the concept of the band which was to have the audience be a part of the show and reflect upon themselves.

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5)I know that you are collaborating with other visual artists or from similar disciplines to make projects e.g with Natalie Mandel on ‘Spiders and Tools’.Would you like to tell us about these collaborations and specifically for this project which was a projection on a building in front of Ravnitzky 7, Tel Aviv.Have you done many building projection projects in public spaces and which is the process of the whole organization of it?

I always enjoy collaborating with other visual artists, it tends to add new dimensions to the creative process. Specifically the project with Natalie was born through our mutual respect for each others work. I really admire her ability to create colourful creatures from recycled garbage she finds on the street. After a few conversations she passed on a few images and short stop-motion clips she created. The next stage was creating the illusion of movement of the creatures using different video software such as Resolume Avenue and Final Cut and then projecting it on a building. We chose the building in front of Ravnitzky 7 because it corresponds with the kind of work that we do. The neighbourhood is in the south part of Tel-Aviv which has a  rundown urban atmosphere, it is also the populated by a mixed group of artists, illegal aliens, and other shady characters which became to be a great audience 🙂

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6)Do you think that the presence of your live visual performance affect the mood of the people in a party and the whole ambient of it?

I hope so 🙂 The process of Vjing for me is mainly subconscious. Most of the time I decide on the spot what kind of visual I want to attach to the music and In addition, try to expect what the musical direction is in order to create continuity. This hopefully enhances the viewers experience and expands their interpretation of the music.

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7)Who was your favourite DJ/DJs  in a live set that his/her music inspired you to go beyond your self visually talking?

There isn’t really a certain DJ that comes to mind, the ones I appreciate the most at the moment and am also inspired by visually are musicians who create their own shows and import visuals or collaborate with other visual artists such as Murcof/Antivj, Amon Tobin/Blasthaus and Plastikman to name a few. For me they are really pushing the audiovisual boundaries.

8)Any projects coming up at the moment?

I’m currently working with Yostek who is a good friend and a fellow musician on a new musical/visual venture called Kaap. we are collecting material and hoping to start performing by the end of the summer. In addition I hope to start teaching Vjing at Muzik, for me teaching is the best way to learn :). I’m also preparing materials for a performance by a band called Trademark at the end of the month. At the same time I hope to continue working with Natalie as well as with other artists. Finally It’s also important to state that I am always trying to improve my own personal audiovisual creations, and continue searching for new ways to express myself.

Thank you very much Gidon

interview by Markoira 

a brief bio: 

Markoira is a video and digital live artist -performer originally from Greece currently working between London and Milan.Initially trained as an actress and then moved to the direction of live digital performances in theatre, gallery spaces ,music events and electro parties. Her collaborations with  music bands as a VJ  and video maker include: XXX,, Gossip, Elephant on Air, Horseplay Events(Proud Galleries,London), a video installation for the fashion show of Vivienne Westwood(Milan Show 01.11) and some more. Recently she founf herself happy to experiment with the building visuals and the video sculpting.At the same time is pleased to contribute to the Shituationist Institue cause she finds herself continuously attacted by their  innovative ideas on contemporary electronic music and situations that  succesfully create for their paries.

One thought on “interview with Vj Shoken (Gidon Schocken)

  1. Pingback: Featured artists by shituationist institute special edition 2011 | the shituationist institute

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