HAPPENINGText: Peta Jenkin

Saturday’s program gave a nod to the flourishing VJ and multimedia scene in Japan, with the ‘Big in Japan’ program. It began with a screening of rather cheesy Japanese animation, in which the common theme seemed to be depicting nature and flitering butterflies in a poppy 2d aestehtic, and even one bizarre 3d extravaganza of a video clip, with dancing lions and dragons to a hideously tacky rave track. Perhaps Addictive TV threw that one in for a laugh. Jokes aside it did leave a feeling that surely there must be better work coming out of the urban jungles of Tokyo and beyond.

VJ Ryoichi Kurosawa’s performance which followed proved just that, with a stunningly executed live AV set that didn’t disappoint. This unassuming young man has made a career out of his work, touring extensively as an artist over the last few years. It was an audiovisual treat rich in colour, light and movement, using the two large screens behind to amazing effect, as if they were digital canvases being literally torn apart by the sonic rhythms that rippled through the theatre.

Ryoichi Kurosawa. Photo: Finckh&Neye

The evening didn’t end there, but instead shifted over to the ICA for the club event, the final closing party which featured a host of DJ and VJ talent all teaming up to provide the entertainment and allow festival-goers to relax and enjoy themselves back in the familiar confines of a club.

EBN at Club AV. Photo: Lisa Loco

The night’s performers included techno pioneer Speedy J and US collaborator and film-maker Scott Pagano, a live set from veterans Emergency Broadcast Network, and a selection of local DJs and VJs. It was reportedly a real gathering of London’s AV scene, along with a healthy handful of European and international AV artists, and a rare occurance in what is a relatively small scene.

The artists that stood out at the Festival weren’t necessarily the most inventive, or visually stunning, or high tech. They were the artists that could translate their ideas well into a performative context, and really demonstrate the link between the sound, the vision, and technologies they employed.

Festival organiser Francois Lamy explained: “We don’t want Optronica to be perceived as a VJ festival, or categorized in one genre. It’s about showcasing a new language of AV, and embracing the whole structure of the audiovisual.”

It’s a form of live digital expression, and whatever the outcome, it felt fresh and exciting, and is an exploration that will continue to surprise as long as technology continues to open up new paths to explore.

The Optronica Festival 2007
Date: March 14th – 18th, 2007
Place: BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX and ICA, London

Text: Peta Jenkin
Photos: Courtesy of Optronica

[Help wanted] Inviting volunteer staff / pro bono for contribution and translation. Please e-mail to us.