How can visualists and venues begin to forge a closer relationship? For one look at how the two can converge, we look at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl.

Now, sometimes, I simply get things wrong. When CDM contributor Annapurna Kumar wrote about Brooklyn Bowl’s Eye Candy for Strangers open call, and its lack of compensation, I expressed concerns that such programs failed to adequately promote professional visual work. I think I’ve become jaded by the poor relationship of pro visuals to event spaces. Brooklyn Bowl took issue with my brief and unelaborated comments, and I think fairly so: I was glib and I failed to do justice to the larger context of their program. (While it’s rare for us to do this, I took the post down, only because we didn’t provide significant information in order to leave it up.)

It is in fact true that this program lacks monetary compensation, but Brooklyn Bowl has more than satisfied me that this is a good promotional opportunity. I’d still like to see additional incentives in these sorts of programs in general, but the work on live shows at Brooklyn Bowl and the call are a good foundation on which to build engagement. (Furthermore, this sort of video sharing on Vimeo and the like – and sites like this – is free by design. The important thing in my mind is to get those compensated events and connections that allow artists to continue their work.)

So, I did get this wrong, but let’s actually do it right, and learn more about how Brooklyn Bowl is working with visuals. The contributions to the Vimeo group — some of my favorites I’ve collected here — may well be work you’ve seen before. It’s some of the live presentation that I think is particularly compelling.

http://vimeo.com/groups/eyecandyforstrangers
Eyecandy Forum Thread @ Vimeo

Justin Bolognino, Founder/Creative Director, Learned Evolution + The Meta Agency runs the program at Brooklyn Bowl, and shares more details of how the space is set up for visuals:

Clearly this program has great meaning to me, and I’m always keen to ensure it is being represented accordingly.

Brooklyn Bowl has 12 HD video screen, 8 of them are 10′ x 7′, 1 is 12 x 9, and the remainder are 50+” LED screens. So, attendees are surrounded by the work of the artists. The system is fully HD, so we request as high res as possible for the submissions.

Regarding compensation, it is correct that there is none for the artists. If this is at all a problem for an artist, the answer is very simple: don’t submit your work. As an artist myself, and as someone who represents artists as a profession, I simply don’t see the issue with not monetarily compensating artists for submitting work they’ve already created to be showcased for thousands of people weekly. We’re not asking anyone to compose new works, rather to show off portfolio pieces, with as much credit as they see fit. Again, if there is an issue with the compensation, the power is in the hands of the artists to simply not join the program. I’ve spent much of my career producing digital film and arts festivals, and have seen countless artists who have submitted work with no rewards beyond exposure do exceptionally well from entering unpaid calls for submissions.

When we select finalists, we send a link to the select works Vimeo album to our 30k mailing list, 17k twitter, and 25k facebook, giving added exposure beyond on-site.

While the Vimeo call doesn’t connect directly to live performance, the Eye Candy series at Brooklyn Bowl has had some really exciting event visuals — in conjunction the rig described above. As Jason notes:

We’ve had Eclectic Method, CTRL, VJ Psyberpixie, Machine Drum, and many, many more live visual artists perform for the Eye Candy series.

Here are the rules. Of course, I’m sure we’d still like to see more incentives for artists, so I hope we find ways to do that. And check out lots more videos after the jump…

DISCLAIMER
By submitting content via our contest website to Eye Candy For Strangers, one grants Brooklyn Bowl the ability to use said footage for promotional and recreational use. All footage may be used for publicity purposes without further remuneration to said contestants of the Eye Candy for Strangers contest.

Brooklyn Bowl
* All ages may apply.

* Video clip can be a maximum of 10 minutes in length.

* The video clips are recommended to be uploaded in high definition quality at 16:9 aspect ratio. 4:3 SD is also acceptable.

* Credits/links will be allowed and recommended to be added to the last 5 seconds of the video.

* These videos will be broadcast without audio. Therefore all submissions will only judged on the quality of visual content.

* No Still Shots or photo slide shows… but we love stop motion.

* There are no limits to how many submissions an individual can turn in.

* The video submission must not contain material that violates or infringes on another person’s rights or promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any individual or group of individuals.

For a look at some of the kind of visual work, see the samples here, as well as the intro video on Brooklyn Bowl the venue.

If you submit work to the program, CDM readers, do let us know and we’ll have a look, too.

And I’m open to ideas about how we could expand the relationships between venues and visualists, especially when they aren’t physically in the same place. What would you want to see in a contest in order to submit? Is promotion enough, or are you concerned about getting other compensation? How could live visuals be a more visible part of the programming in spaces? (Beyond Brooklyn Bowl, it’s something I’m regularly discussing with venues.)

And thanks to Jason for providing this additional information; I hope we continue the conversation rolling.

  • http://learnedevolution.com Justin Bolognino

    This is amazing. I've never challenged a story like this, but felt compelled to on this one, and quite glad I did. 

    Thanks Peter!!

    jb

  • http://qotile.net Paul Slocum

    Although it's cool that this is happening, I actually agree with your original criticism.  Form my experience as a video artist, a video art gallery director, and an advisor to programs similar to this one, lack of compensation and lack of a curator is a bad omen and typically results in a program that is limp.  Hopefully this will be the exception.

  • Peter Kirn

    Right, though it sounds as though in effect they're curating from an open Vimeo submission. Still, it's the live shows that have me excited, because I think there's something special when you make something really happen in person – that's the element of live visual performance we've always advocated on this site.

  • http://qotile.net Paul Slocum

    I'm definitely into more live visuals in NY.  I've been surprised at how infrequently I see video projectors at clubs here.

    I'd like to see more Bring Your Own Beamer (BYOB) events. It'd be cool to do a VJ-oriented one in conjunction with musical performances.  My friend and I are putting together a BYOB "Games Edition" in December.

    http://www.byobworldwide.com/

  • Ted Pallas

    I'd want to know who's determining the musical context for my work – essentially, who's playing VJ?  Is it a random playlist?  What makes sure my beautiful stop-motion piece showing the sun coming up over the mountains revealing spiderwebs doesn't pop up when ?uestlove drops "Ante Up" at 11:30 on a Wednesday?

    I'd be more into it if I got to know the personality responsible for choosing the videos from submissions was also the "resident VJ."  This would open up yet more avenues for exploring collaborations in the context of club nights…