Let yourself be enchanted by the images created by VJ Jago, the girl behind visuals and numerous video clips.
Considered by many to be the cream of the Polish VJ scene crop, Jago is without a doubt a talented girl. Known for her original images, well thought out and highly original VJ sets, we decided to ask her a few questions about her creative process. And she was kind enough to answer them. Sit back, relax and enjoy our interview with one of Poland's finest.
INTERVIW: VJ JAGO (Poznan)
How did you become involved with VJing?
Well, in short, it was sort of a combination of my love for short films and listening to music. And a few years ago the idea popped into my head. I was studying film theory, at the same time making my own short films. So, you could say that I was recording images, getting to know editing software, and putting together my own films and video anyway, but for one reason or another there was no reason or incentive that would have made me drift in the direction of becoming a VJ. And at the time I had absolutely no interest in mixing images with music made for club dance floors, and if anything, I wanted to work on more closed types of audiovisual project, ones in which the music and images complement each other and go hand in hand. At the beginning of 2010 I was asked to make some images for a theatrical music performance. I agreed, did what I was asked to and ended getting several other propositions.
How would you describe your style?
Well, the base of all my loops is material that is I film myself, and later edit and process in order to obtain exactly what I am after. The bulk of what I do are at time more and at others less abstract stories that in a way are similar to music videos. But I always try to avoid using the same method of story telling, just like I usually shy away from using the same esthetic over and over again. I want what I do to evolve and change. I want what I do to grow with me and reflect who I am as a person. In the beginning, my style was heavily influenced by my love for analog images, lomography, and pictures taken with old, Soviet plastic cameras using past due film. And that was how I did most of my work. The digital quality of pictures taken on my pocket camera pretty much made me see red every single time I examined a picture, so what I did was pretty much destroy the image and sent it through several layers so as to make it more pleasant for the eye and more like something you would expect to see in a movie. But ever since I have a reflex camera, I have been trying new things and solutions, and I am absolutely delighted with the quality of my images, meaning too that my visual experiments are moving in a different direction. You could even say that I am in a new phase of my artistic venture.
What sort of equipment do you use? Are you a strictly laptop VJ or do you happen to make the best of other types of media, too?
I use a Macbook Pro and a midi controller when I perform live. But that's just live, and when I am in my studio making things I use plenty of other equipment. As I mentioned earlier, I now use a reflex camera to shoot my images, but before I used only a small HD camera. Anyway, I also record visual effect created by using an epidiascope or scanner in a slightly different manner than one usually would, or by using enlargement lenses and films. In short, there is no one way I do things and I always try to experiment a bit. The next step in my creative process is editing the recorded material. I cut, paste, color and piece everything together into a 'story'. When striving for a certain effect, it happens that I process and correct a image almost without end.
By the way, congratulation on winning the last edition of the Videozone competition. Can you tell us what a VJ needs to take part in a VJ battle?
Thanks. It really was a great experience to take part in such an event, although I am not the biggest fan of such forms of rivalry. I was lucky enough to make it through the early, Internet-based phases of the contest, but I treated going to the final in Jaworzno, if anything, as more of an occasion to meet up with like-minded people , and to learn a thing or two from them. Oh, and I also wanted to do my best, by the way, but I really was not expecting to win. And I definitely wasn't counting on it in any way. I just did what I always do, tried to always react to the music and anticipate what was going to happen next, as I have a tendency to always try to make something along the lines of a music video.
You work with the Polish radio station Czworka on a pretty innovative project called 'Radio na Wizji'. Do you think that the program has in any way helped promote the art of VJ-ing in Poland?
In my opinion what Czworka is doing is very, very useful, and whoever came up with the idea really should be congratulated. Thanks to such a form of broadcasting, whoever wishes to spend a Friday or Saturday night at home with friends can do so without worrying about putting together a playlist, because all one has to do is tune into Czworka and listen. At the same time, what they get is a live VJ set, which for most is probably just the icing on the cake, but in this respect the influence of the station on its viewers/listeners is pretty big. When the project started in 2011, the viewers really didn't take much notice of what the VJs were doing. Now, however, they actually ask questions, make comments, and even notice many of the in and outs associated with the mixing process. And if that wasn't enough, they often themselves start discussions about software and equipment. So, in short, you could say that people are much more conscious than they were before, which could also, in the long run, have a beneficial effect on the club circuit. And I really hope that actually happen. With that said, I am very happy to be part of the project and have something to say, so to speak.
What can you tell me about your live performes at events and on air? Do you sort of go with the flow or do you put a certain amount of preparation into every performance?
That depends. The audiovisual projects that I make together with other producers/composers does require quite a lot of preparation and can't be done on the fly. But what I try to do is go into every project with a different attitude, and make original images inspired in their entirety by the music I hear. And so, what the end product is actually very concise, well-thought out, and I never stray away from it when performing. The same hold for what I do at Czworka – the preparation of VJ sets requires involvement, and clever implementation of images. However, what makes this form of VJing different is that I have to play by the general rules of television, which means that I have to make things as diverse as possible and make sure that images change often. But I always try to make things that I myself would like to see on television. Sometimes I also explore and experiment, but very often this happens only late at night. Such experiments very often lead to new ideas, which I then work on, develop and later use.
What can you tell is about the project that you work on with Weronika Lewandowska?
I met Weronika at the Videozone competition in Jaworzno. She was a member of the jury, as besides being a well known poet and poetic slammer, she is also a researcher of the art of VJing and one of the founding members of share.warsaw. Shortly after meeting, I was asked to take part in an audiovisual project of her's, the music to which was composed by Kordian Piwowarski (of Plan.kton fame). And everything just went from there on its own. Our first performance together was at Reims Slam d'Europe in France, and it was very well received. For me, the project is a new and interesting challenge, and a kind of getaway from the way I normally do things. During our performances, Weronika recites her poems in Polish, so after we started getting booked abroad, I decided to translate fragments of her poetry into other languages and incorporate them into my images. And that was challenging. I have yet to use them in a live performance, so it will be interesting how it all goes down.
Electronic music producers and DJs usually look to Berlin and Detroit. Do any cities have a cult following among VJs? Are there any places where trends and opinions are formed?
I think that there are several places where new trends are ever present, and such places are usually large-scale audiovisual festivals such as Live Performance Meeting (LPM), or Mapping Festival in Geneva. The latter is a two-day meeting of artists from all over the world, which is supplemented by numerous workshops, lectures and top notch audiovisual performances, so it is also a great opportunity to broaden your horizons. But there are literally tons of such events all over the world.
Are there any artists who inspire you?
Well, the bulk of what inspires me is music. Sounds very often put images into my head. Some such forms of inspiration are written down and later developed. So you could say that music is what inspires me the most. But I can't name any one artist. Sure, I could name a few here and now, but chances are that I would have a completely different answer in a month's time if someone happened to ask me the same question.
Your plans for the near future?
Well, last year was very busy, and many good things happened. I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would give my brain a rest, but as is usually the case with New Year's resolutions, I quickly did the exact opposite, and started working hard. In short, I am experimenting with images, improving my skills and putting together new VJ sets. I am pretty demanding when it comes to my own work. But to answer your question more precisely, I am currently working on a visual interrelation of Weronika Lewandowska's poems. Also, I'm working on VJ sets for very talented electronic music producers like Mooryc. And I have lots of plans, but I don't want to talk about them just yet.