Illumination 2.0

See more shots from Illumination 2.0 in our slideshow.

By PJ Standlee

Ryan Jeffs, aka "Inertia", of Phoenix, deftly mixes trans-beats as the crowd starts to move slowly to a lucid tempo. The sound is repetitive and catchy but not annoying. The music starts to take on a life of its own and images from the Nature channel are being flashed in rapid succession on an incredibly large projector screen by an accompanying video jockey.

The effect is hypnotic. For those not used to music and video art performance-based raves, the amount of stimuli can be overwhelming. Slowly, Inertia's beats start to sway the small crowd, but with an unintended side effect: Everyone in the cavernous sound and stage studio stops dancing and starts to watch Inertia spin. Then the crowd jerks back in motion as if someone pressed a universal play button and kicked Illumination 2.0 back into action.

While the crowd at the audio and visual art performance was too small to call a full-blown rave, the performing artists treated the show as a spontaneous moment of art and an opportunity to show off their mixing and technical skills.

"We wanted to bring local DJs together with visual artists because we felt that it was really lacking in the Arizona scene," said organizer Paul "MCP" Gervais of Mesa.

By combining video jockeys, who spontaneously mix visual images using video recorders, computers, MIDI components, and even Wii controllers, with DJs who spin everything from trance to house music, visual performance artists strive to create spontaneous art by reacting to each other and to the crowd.

The technology behind the video performance can be extremely elaborate. Karl White, also known as "Metrognome," and Zeke "Falcotronik" Prebluda from Tucson misuse advanced audio and video equipment in their performances.

White, who works with video touch screens for a living, uses a Nintendo Wii controller, which has a sensitive infrared camera, to help project his video touch screen music software so that the audience can see the music as it is made.

As White mixes the music, Prebluda "deconstructs" videos from playback sources and then projects them to video screens.

The show also attracted other artists who displayed their rave related artwork. Ashley Grzadzieleski, who graduated from the Art Institute, specializes in UV paintings that psychedelically change images in the dark.

Galindo said that this show has been one of their most ambitious audio-video forays.

"We are taking a risk. This is the first time we've had video walls, and it's the first time we've had so much plugged in at once," Galindo said. "It's doubled from last year."

The risk is well worth it for Galindo and Gervais as they try to move a new art form into the Phoenix area. The smaller venue is perfect for testing out techniques and learning from others.

"There's no one way to do this," Galindo said. "One guy can be using DVDs and another guy can be using live webcams. Its virtual knowledge and a growing art form."

Galindo and Gervais' shows attract many of the veteran artists because they have a high respect for the art and the artists, Jeffs said.

"It feels like I've been doing this since there were parties in Phoenix," said Jeffs. "I think others [DJs] would be stupid if they didn't want to get involved with this show. I can play an hour or two hours here while other DJs play for only 45 minutes and compete with 60 other DJs. At a local level, this is far more rewarding."

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Jonathan McNamara