Glitch Western (2min 9 sec, 2003) is a snippet from a performance by Spoole (Anna Helme aka Spanna, Sean Healy aka Jean Poole, Andrew Sargent aka FutureEater) at Electrofringe 2003.

Spoole was an AV performance outfit performing between 2002 and 2004. We performed at various events from our first show at dLux’s Dataterra show to gigs at pubs, clubs, festivals and events like Electrofringe, Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Straight Out of Brisbane etc. At one point Spoole ended up on radio to advocate to the kids on JJJ that “VJing is fun!” (in chorus!) though as a matter of fact we weren’t VJs so much as AV performers working on an ever-evolving show around various themes (we narrowly avoided being turfed out of the ABC that day due to certain members of the band writing down their names at the security desk as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Cash… “you had Grandmaster Flash in here yesterday, do you think that’s his real name??”).

The most cohesive theme we worked around was the Glitch Western series of shows, which were sample-heavy but included lots of material we produced ourselves also – either animations or live action video or samples that had been through various visual effects processes so many times they were pretty much unrecognisable. The Glitch Western show was like a remix of the cinematic motifs and techniques of the Western, but also an examination of man and nature, and the impact of the pioneering (colonising) spirit on the environment – in the wild west, but also here in Australia. Images and sounds such as monkeys operating movie cameras, huge dust storms blowing over Melbourne, man-made deserts in outback Australia, duelling drummers have a drum-out in an industrial landscape and samples from TV cowboys’n’injuns were mashed together in a staccato remix which was partly a live AV essay about film itself, and the themes of the Western in particular and partly about putting on an entertaining and interesting show.

JP used Arkaos on a Mac and I used VjammPro on a PC at the time. We were later joined by FutureEater who used Audio Mulch on his PC to post-process and mix audio from both our AV signals. I would pass my video signal to JP for remixing as a live feed at times – we’d tend to alternate playing during the show, with a bit of jamming between us as we passed it over to the other person. The video mixing was all done using software, as we didn’t use a video mixer (just had a little video switcher, an audio mixer and a helluva lot of cables). We moved towards using midi keyboards or other devices to plug in and control clips and effects.

Spoole was a fun time, usually starting with excitable brainstorm sessions interspersed with long studio hours sampling, remixing, animating and producing, ending in a show running up to an hour. There was plenty of room for experimenting with new techniques, and a indulging in a fascinating process of what was for me like video editing – but live, a great way to learn about timing and cuts, and trying juxtapositions that you might not in a normal video production. There was also the opportunity to throw in whatever great footage (or interesting concept or idea) you’d found that week and work that in, or play more with the musical/rhythmic side of remixing AV material, and gauge the impact of what you were doing with a live audience.


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