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Timm Ringewaldt and Sven Gareis have been working as the VJ Team
“monitor.automatique” within the Berlin club-, art-
and media-scene since 1996. Their activities include VJ-performances
and video production – from shooting to DVD-mastering –
as well as the development of interactive installations. They are
considered to be one of the most innovative projects of the Berlin
How did we become Vjs?
We met in 1996 going out in Berlin and we decided to work together.
We were not interested exclusively in video, but rather in computers,
electronic machines and the flea markets of berlin. After having
learned to use Macromedia Director – a software to create
multimedia-content - at University we made our first interactive
sound and video-installations. We presented them in clubs, bars
and off-spaces like the gallery “radio berlin”. Later
on Sven got the chance to salvage a pile of about 30 videomonitors
destined to be dumped. We stored them in storage-rooms and thereby
found our name: monitor.automatique.
Our first permanent installation took place in the club “Maria”:
We installed 12 monitors above the dance-floor and a computer, which
was supposed to fill them with images. This proved to be rather
difficult, so we started to experiment with VHS and soon found out
that video was great to tune up the images from the computer: we
learned to use a videomixer, discovered the overscan mystery, scan-converters,
and so on. Video became our new playground; we started to shoot
our own footage, created videoloops and got our first bookings for
Nowadays, programming and development of interactive installations
is a big part of our work. Most of the installations use monitors
or videobeams as output and video cameras and buttons as user interface.
The other part of our work is video editing and DVD-production,
which we do for our own performances and for commercial customers.
Our interactive installations:
Our most important installation is called “Prontophot”.
It creates a video out of images of visitors and synchronizes their
movements with the music for the rest of the night.
We started to develop Prontophot in 1997 and have been working on
it since then.
Prontophot reflects the field of surveillance technology on one
hand and the production of visual desires on the other. It seduces
the visitors to transform themselves into the person they always
wanted to be and fulfils their secret wish to be seen on screen.
Instead of the desire to be watched it rather produces the longing
to be seen.
The main part of Prontophot is the capture box, which is the interface
for the visitors. It is constructed of several monitors, a button
and a video camera.
In order to become part of Prontophot a visitor has to press the
button of the capture box. After this initial step Prontophot takes
several images within the next two seconds. A computer stores these
images in a database, and loops them, triggered by the sound of
the DJ. The images are then projected on a screen making it seem
as if the visitor is dancing to the music. Immediately after the
pictures were taken a person can watch himself repeating a movement
which he performed just a second ago.
Prontophot collects all the images – a pool out of which a
video-clip is generated that constantly grows. If nobody presses
the button the installation mixes the images out of this pool, changing
the chosen person every few seconds.
An installation, which evolved out of Prontophot, is called Clubtomatique.
It consists of a camera and a monitor and presents usually images
similar to those of a surveillance camera. If someone stands in
front of it, his mirrored-image makes rhythmic but totally unreal
movements. This is achieved by distorting the video in time, modulated
by the sound.
We work with a combination of self-programmed software tools and
analogue video hardware, which we compile to achieve the imagery
that is intended. We select video material that is suitable for
the place and the occasion from our video-archive or create new
one for each performance. Our style is inspired by pop-art and cubism,
but also by the aesthetics of surveillance-camera-images. As in
the installation “Prontophot” the interaction with the
audience is crucial for our live-performances. We are constantly
trying to enforce the connection between the people who are present
and the place where the event takes place.