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The Book

What is VJing and realtime interaction

  Eugenio Tisselli




I made MIDIPoet because I wanted to become a Text Jockey. I wanted to do to text what Disc Jockeys were doing to music: cutting, scratching, mixing and remixing. I needed a tool that let me do live manipulation of textual elements on the screen. Since I was wanting to explore text in a performative way, I also needed to have the possibility to play this tool as a musical instrument. Back then (I'm talking about 1999) I hadn't heard about Video Jockeys, and software for live visuals was just not accessible. For example, there was Image/ine, by STEIM, but it didn't support text, and it was just too expensive for me. So I developed MIDIPoet. It took me some months of coding, but finally there it was. Very soon I was performing live text using a MIDI keyboard, and I would do it whenever and wherever I could find an open door. I had the fortune to connect almost immediately with a group of brave poets, and on we went, doing poetry performances with me improvising on MIDIPoet and projecting texts on walls of cafés, clubs and galleries. It was not too long before some friends suggested that MIDIPoet should also be able to manipulate images. It was a good thing that they managed to convince me, because the possibility of doing live visuals was a real revelation for me. That's when I fist heard about VJing. And to be honest, I have used MIDIPoet more to do visuals than texts since then. But still, I approach live visuals as I would approach a poetry performance. Poetry, for me, is at the root of VJing. I don't perform a lot now, but every time I do, I try to make it special. I like to prepare new material each time, so the images and texts can be connected with the event in some way. Of course, nowadays there are a lot of excellent tools for VJs. But I stick to MIDIPoet, not only because I have a very close -even emotional- relationship with the tool, but also because I have found that, despite its limitations, it lets me achieve exactly what I want to do. Not techno-looking stuff or ultra flashy effects, but text that can be read as digital-ghost-graffitti. With me playing as a silent musician. Eugenio Tisselli. Paris, 2007. Attached: pictures of catalan poets Carles Hac Mor and Ester Xargay performing the MIDIPoet version of Raymond Queneau's "Cent mille miliards de poemes", and one picture of me VJing with MIDIPoet at the 2004 ReadMe festival in Aarhus, Denmark.

Andrew Bucksbarg
Eugenio Tisselli
Federico Bonelli
Gabriel Menotti
Holger Lund
Jeremy Hight
Joe Reinsel
Lucy H G/ L Hermes Griesbach
Michael Betancourt
Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, Furtherfield