What do you look at when you go clubbing? I’ve always found it a bit awkward – avoiding eye contact with people, trying to make eye contact with other people, trying not to be that person on the dancefloor staring into space. At live shows and festivals, of course, you can watch the performance. Some DJs are interesting enough to watch for sustained periods. But for a standard club or bar night, half an hour or so after I arrive, I often am left wondering where to look.
Canberra has been steadily solving this dilemma. A Baker has hosted another string of Digital Feasts, giving their projector over to the ANU Art School for the night and challenging them to keep pace with the music. La De Da has a crew of projectionists to keep things fresh and interesting at most of their gigs, and hosts the sporadic VideoWars where visual artists can flex in the centre of attention. Mr Wolf has sick lights on the roof ‒ I was a sceptic at first, but apparently they are able to be controlled by the DJ, so it’s easy to program them to react to the music and change organically, rather than remain stuck on the same setting every night as often seen in other clubs.
Ask 10 VJs (as projection artists are sometimes called) how they get pretty colours on the wall, and you’ll get 15 answers. I’ve seen programming geniuses code physics programs to represent water flowing, 3D animations made from scratch, YouTube videos, clips from Donnie Darko, hand drawn stop-motion, and the view from a camera pointed at the audience that is then heavily distorted.
Blind-drunk patrons aside, I think that clubbers in general should expect more from their dancefloors. Keep an eye out for warm, slowly moving colours on your next night at a forward-thinking venue, and get excited for projections at this year’s Oktoberfest.
Isaac is a Woroni Editor and uniVibes Director.