Yesterday, the producer and DJ Luke Abbott shared his thoughts on the role of visuals in relation to music. Today, his friend and collaborator Dan Tombs answers these questions from the perspective of a visual artist.
Dan has frequently performed live visual projections in clubs, at festivals and in gallery spaces, collaborating with some of the most interesting figures of the electronic music scene, such as Jon Hopkins, Factory Floor or Luke Abbott. Most recently, he was working with Factory Floor on a show for Tate Modern’s The Tanks. Dan has also been commissioned for solo shows by galleries in England and Asia, and currently is a visiting lecturer at Norwich University College of the Arts.
160g: What do you think is the role of visuals in live electronic music shows? Are you interested in creating composite works or do you find visuals in service of music in a club environment?
Dan Tombs: I think a well thought out show is important, video projections are a huge part of electronic music, but also people like Four Tet can put on amazing shows in near darkness. I always try and think about what is appropriate for the venue, the artist and the atmosphere. My aim is to work with musicians and create a good experience for the people coming to see the show, the visuals should work in harmony with the music and be complimentary not dominant, but not purely subservient either, its a tricky balance.
Your forthcoming show at the Waiting Room will be entirely live – do you walk into clubs with an idea for visuals or do you tend to create spontaneously on the spot?
I always have a strong idea of what i’m going to do for any particular show, however, the actual performances are inevitably different each time; my visuals are a direct reaction to the mood in the room and direction of the sounds on that particular night. Just as a DJ brings certain records to play, the order in which they are played differs depending on the crowd. I have a certain range of video sources with me which I set up to generate the results I want but there is a lot of room for improvisation to create a new performance, which means I can be very fluid in my approach.
Do you ever respond with your videos to physicality of environments as well as to music?
I have experimented with mirrors and bouncing the projections into them to fill out the space and splash the light around the venue, this can be quite a volatile set up though. I prefer using multiple projectors in a space if possible, it worked well when I played some shows around the UK with Walls earlier this year as I was able to project over the band and the whole stage which really transformed the venues for each show.
While your solo show was on at the Norwich Arts Centre, the same venue hosted a night of live music from Luke and Nathan Fake to your visuals. Also, expectations towards electronic music shows tend to change massively depending on the character of the venue – this one being an arts centre. Did you think this might have had an impact on the focus of the audience at your show in May?
Well it was more me setting images to their music, but I had large inkjet prints on the walls of the venue too so it felt like I had taken over quite a bit. It was a really great show to do as it was an opportunity to try out some new visuals for Luke’s live set and also allowed me to rework some visuals I had previously created for Nathan around the time Hard Islands was released. The Norwich Arts Centre is a great venue, and has a large projection screen which allows images to be floor to ceiling on the back of the stage, this creates a certain drama within the space, because of this I think people may have had a slightly greater critical awareness of the video that night, but ultimately it was about creating the atmosphere and everyone seemed to have a great time.
What audiovisual shows have impressed you most? Is there anyone in particular you follow in this respect?
I’m always impressed by Weirdcore who produce amazingly involved and technically brilliant shows for people like Aphex Twin and M.I.A. but I also really love the simple and slightly chaotic approach Lars Larsen has in his visuals for Neon Indian, he also makes and designs an amazing modular video synthesiser system which will certainly be a future purchase for me. I’m also inspired by the reductive approach Trevor Jackson has to his video works, he uses a great economy in those pieces that i’m envious of.
follow Dan on twitter
visit his website
get tickets for IA & 44 Present Luke Abbott with
LUKE ABBOTT (Live)
RIVAL CONSOLES (Live)
DAN TOMBS (Visual)
Friday 21 September at the Waiting Room, Stoke Newington, London
£5 ADV / £7 OTD19 September 2012 Leave a Comment