Audiovisual City: interview with Grigori Korotkikh, founder of VJ Union Australia
1: Hi Grig! Can you tell us something about concept, goals and history of VJ Union Australia?
Hi Marco! First of all, I would like to thank you for the great work you doing with AudioVisual City.org and allowing me to take on these question and speak my mind.. 😉 The work you doing is great, and I do hope growing community would find strong appreciation for it, as I certainly do. AudioVisualCity is developing into a very nice global directory of video art festivals & multimedia events and is a great resource for video artists profiles and VJ’s around the World and Europe in particular. Important that you keep that up! 🙂 Full support and Love! 🙂
VJ Union Australia. You have nailed it,- it is a concept. The main idea behind it was to establish active and social networking platform and directory of practising VJ’s and Video Artists across Australia to give our community a sense of togetherness and ability to discuss and share our progress, evolution and explore solutions to issues that we regularly deal on week to week basis. The network is constantly developing and new members are added at a regular pace while growing number of collaborative projects emerge between artists due to such dialogue. This is really encouraging when I see that happening. History. I feel its important to note that Australian vj scene has been active for well over a decade across the country, so there is some history before VJ Union Australia project got onto its way. At early internet days some projects were launched which would provide listings of active VJ’s and Video Artists (primarily focusing on Sydney) though often many of those projects had faded away and no longer active mainly due to ongoing commitment of maintenance, required networking to keep it growing and its associated costs and time spend working on it. VJ Union Australia is trying to fill that void and keep this project as an ongoing platform for Australian VJ community as well as any International VJ artists that schedule they visit to Australia to do shows.
I feel I can speak on a behalf of the community, and that’s to say that we are very open to meet and great Artists that schedule themselves to perform in Australia. Our network is wide across all states, so there is someone out there who can come and show you around in the local area. Most times it would happily work. I feel its reassuring to know that there is a friendly and open Australia wide vj community that is willing to give some on ground network and feedback based on local knowledge and exchange ideas and perform collaboratively at times as well. The foundations to development of this project tracks back to my previous involvement in the initiating a number of social networking projects going back 9 to 10 years ago.
When I was living in Central Queensland, there was another project that I ran called (MILK COMMUNITY) which was connecting Electronic Dance Music Scene across number of regional cities in Queensland primarily and bringing Artists and they Collaborative Efforts in Electronic music together. As my personal interests were heading towards Multimedia and Live Visual performance and due to the nature of my passions, I saw great need to develop platform for Live Visual community as well. Over the duration of my journeys dating back 7 years, I began to establish personal and professional relationships with video artists across the country and so the initiations for such development had began then. Also to be noted that such communities as – VJForums.com have played an important part in establishing such connections, though I always felt that it never really highlighted specifics of Australian representation fully, so it comes as a natural progression that things worked out as they have.
Goals. There are many! Among the top of the list for me personally is to see this art form/craft being capable to be self self sustaining for artists. Ultimately I would like to see entire VJ Union Australia members being able (if they choose) to practise they by focusing on pushing its boundaries without resorting to holding a second job. Its a dream, but why cant this be a reality? Other set of Goals is to further the performing platform for performance opportunities, establishment and development of festival and events structures with specific multimedia performance approach, developing educational structures and networks to support development of new talent and training, cross country community support programs, setting up dialogues among technology companies and software developers to reflect the needs and requirements for the art form, increasing the quality output of the content delivered via appropriate technology and methods of connection and keep promoting what we keep on doing by lifting overall standards to new heights. With those goals in mind, its also important to highlight that skill sets exchange doesn’t only happen locally and we are actively interacting with Global Communities in similar fields, so overall VJ Union concept is something that can potentially be achievable as Global as it grows. There are steps in this direction that are taking place.
2: Networking and marketing 2.0 through online media are two important focuses of VUA. Could you describe the digital strategies that you carry out in order to promote Vj arts locally and internationally? How did you build the network of Vj Union Australia?
Good question. You generally want to begin with setting your focus on the VJ practise in many of its implementations and actively scanning for any additions or changes to the playing field (Events, Artists, Technology). Very important element here though, a lot done through personal approach. Its nice to grow community that personally knows one another and iteracts online and offline regularly. Personally I speak to every member individually at some point of another and would not be here if not for many passionate individuals who add and contribute as well. The community that has evolved this far primarily focuses on Technology- Software and Hardware with points of Inpiration and has raised many very interesting and engaging discussions. Among the things that I present as a suggestion is for everyone to be aware of the effort and practise that they bring and firmly believe that – http://www.respectyourvj.net/ is a good founding block for Artists to be aware and apply to they own practise. Its impossible to drive the entire progress on your own without Artists individually putting some work towards respecting themselves and applying some of the key points and consistently. I encourage this throughout our community and if this is constantly followed then we are making a progress by having VJ names listed on all flyers and events which increases promotion for the arts Australia Wide. These are basic steps. At some events, VJ’ing is still an after thought and can have better response in some areas. Our recommendation is to engage with promoters earlier on in the process and apply required marketing from early stages. Some of my ongoing work as VJ co-ordinator for a number of Australian Festivals gives me an opportunity to make sure that Artists are always credited and given appropriate compensation for they work. Its not always easy process, but aim is always there. This is on local level approach. Our website is very visible on Google on lot of things VJ and it will only keep growing. Whenever I find extra time, I try to put some more information on public websites, though as you might have noticed our social networks are fairly busy 🙂
3: You have relationships with VJ’s in New Zealand, Sweden and Canada and more. You also help international artists that arrive in Australia. Could talk about the collaborations carried out with these different countries?
This one always makes me smile. I really love the fact that there are some amazing people who practise Vjing on the other part of the world and share and exchange practically the same issues and concerns as you do. Very special connection and friends who I would like to acknowledge – Mikael Wehner, Joel Ditrich (Swedish VJ Union), Gavin Loitering(VJ Union Canada), Naomi Lamb & Simon Barker(Kiwi Vjs). Due to special relationship between Australia and New Zealand, we had opened membership to New Zealand members as well. Things develop in interesting ways. At this point, the exchange primarily happens in forms of promotion of methods and tools that we develop and work on. A lot of it sits on technical level. We have constant discussions on various software that our members develop and share, along with hardware configurations to enhance the quality of our output, etc. Overall, its now a global community with our members consisting of Australian practising Artists and our International Ambassadors across the world. This makes things easier for those that partake in travel and can always have someone to say hi to in each country or even each city.
4: How do you describe the situation of audiovisual artists performing in Australia, regarding spaces, fees, technical support, and so on? What is the position of VUA about that?
How much time have you got? 🙂 From personal experience by travelling throughout Australia and doing about 50 to 60 shows a year for close to 7 years, I can tell you that there is a vast variety of Spaces, Fees, Technical Support and so on.. 😉 All can be different from event to event, festival to a festival. The positive thing that I see is that there overall growth of events that feature Vjs and for most part it comes down to the situation in relation to promoter – vj relationship to define what outcomes are met and how things are executed at each show itself. Among the community there is a combined total of pretty much all experiences that could possibly be, so at times one question is enough to get an insight from quick responses within the community that are based on the actual experiences from events, working with promoters and professional practises. Personally I share such knowledge and in particular appreciate when its put into a good use and people follow up with good work afterwards. Always have time for that. All in all, there is level of understanding of self advice. Most things can be considered common sense especially if you choose to keep yourself organised and professional. And if you get stuck, there is a community ready to help you out…