Complementary video and sound with L’Aubaine

I did an interview article thing last week with a person who has an interest in film and cinema and corresponding visual arts and the consequences of talking with that person was that I gained an elevated interest in those film pictures and all that visual stuff. The film interest remained bubbling around in my regular thoughts and it influenced the decisions I made when I was thinking about who I could talk with next about our lockdown times. I had a look around my various internet lists of people that I know or sort of know because I like it more when I can just look at a list to remember who I know instead of having to think aloud. My mind thoughts started flaying out and deliberating on what possible other interpretations of film there are around that I supposedly know of and after a short while of thinking of just blankness and starting to hate myself for not thinking properly I dragged up a realisation thought of when people use film and images to accompany sound. Then I thought that the people who do these visual complements to sounds are called VJ’s and I was pleased that I was correct to think that. I know some people who do this artistic practice and I looked towards Laurie Bender or L’Aubaine as she’s professionally known.  I’ve known her off and on for something like I don’t remember but quite a long time anyway.

We met up in a sort of socially distanced pub and she told me all sorts that I sort of had an idea of and other things that I didn’t know at all and I found it all engaging and wrote a load of notes while she spoke. When the lockdown started Laurie was subject to the similar amounts of anxiety that we all found in ourselves when we would look at the news too much and try and figure out what’s going on but after the first few weeks of self-isolation her creativity ideas increased as the anxiety decreased as she settled into it and she began improvising alone with projection mapping and experimenting and playing with what was around her in her studio. Then moving over into investigating various ideas that can be used with these now more popular livestream events.

Turns out that the lockdown has been kind of beneficial for video artists. When you think about it there’s plenty more live streams going around the place at the moment and although quite a lot of the music coming from them is good, sometimes the visual bit is lacking. Stationary people sat behind laptops in their front rooms need a bit more to engage me and as it’s a live stream with video as well as sound then I’m using my eyes as well as my ears. It’s not just an audio feed and I want to see inventive pictures and shapes or I have to close my eyes and make them myself which I can do sometimes but that’s not really the point. Before we met Laurie pointed me towards some of the work she’s recently done with other artists so I could look at it and try and work out what’s going on and make questions happen in me that I could ask her.

There’s various techniques she’s used with her VJ images to incorporate them into livestream presentations. Some are done live and some are performed live but then have themselves further edited into the stream of the performer and presented as a final piece later. The lockdown extra time gave Laurie all the time required to get to grips with these new processes. ‘Keying out’ or removing areas of a video image to insert another moving video image can be one of those involved fiddly processes and having an actual project to do it on and the time to do it with can help with getting it settled into your mind securely to remember it and so it won’t go away and will stay there for next time. There’s also been time to develop her own Isolation experimentations, using the confines of the studio to generate ideas and develop her own projects, using projection mapping and LED strips.

Mostly the work was done remotely in her studio, either live or then edited and then delivered. Although we talked about one occasion when the anticipated setup for Resolution involved travelling to that Deptford place across the river to perform live projected visuals in an empty corona nightclub with a filmed DJ there, for later editing and online broadcast. I’m continually impressed by the variety of the ideas that are arising from the corona restrictions imposed on us and what people are coming up with to persist with showing their art in alternative ways when we can’t do it n the way we have been used to before. If anything, ordinarily I personally wouldn’t have paid much attention to some artists and genres, and my clubbing days are fairly long gone. But now, with word of mouth and internet events and links and extra corona time for investigation I have the ability and also the inclination to have a look at what’s going on and a fair portion of it is inspiring, and again it serves to keep reminding people that this stuff is still there, and in my case, showing me it new with more time to re-evaluate and appreciate.

So as well as all the animations and eye attracting shapes produced to complement and enhance sound performances Laurie also took part in an off-site performance stream for Iklectik with other artists, and it was a delight to watch her performance of her Morocco audio visual set. Using animations, patterns and video. I’ve seen bits of it before here and there in live spaces in the past when we were able to congregate. Now by talking with Laurie in that pub the other day and listening to backstories and techniques used and music involved I could then sit back and sink into sofa while watching the moving image varieties tie in with the sounds and engage with it throughout its progress. The Morocco set has generated the most favourable audience reaction as it has a narrative, it starts and develops and draws you in and you feel compelled to let that happen.

I’m drawn to North African music and the instrumentation and use of voice with often lolloping loop type rhythms suits me perfect and to sit and watch and to feel a need to find out more about the music type involved left me saying to myself internally yes I enjoyed that and I feel encouraged to discover more. I didn’t say that out loud as I was by myself at the time. It’s called Gnawa music, Laurie told me that and I’m grateful. Typing this word into a search box on the computer makes loads of Gnawa rabbit holes appear in front of you.

We said bye to each other and touched customary corona elbows and I settled down to writing this, which was fun because of interesting things to mention and difficult because of lots of interesting things to mention and I couldn’t mention them all so I had to be like an editor and try and only write about some things and not others so I did that and finished it then went and listened to more Gnawa.

Andy Rowe is a sound artist who lives and works in London. He has worked with sound in a professional and creative context since 1996 and gained a degree in Sonic Art from Middlesex University in 2009. He has displayed work in Coventry's Herbert gallery, London's Hundred Years, Raven Row, Chalton, Art and Escape, Horse Hospital, ToandFor, and Doomed galleries. His sound, music and performance project is known as the Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers. He has performed live at festivals and events in England, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy both alone and collaboratively

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