The Spectacle and the VJ

Deadmau5’s live performances are a spectacle that incorporate the art of VJ-ing; the live conglomeration of visual imagery and movement, usually accompanied by music. His sets are comprised of the mixture of live music, live visualisations and a public that experiences the spectacle at the moment of performing.

In order to create these extravagant spectacles, visualisations are created using digital computer animation that incorporates mystical characters with more abstract displays of light and movement. When the visualisations have been constructed, they are projected over the stage and into the public sphere using L.E.D screens that cover the entire back of the stage, as well as Deadmau5’s cube-shaped DJ booth.

The visualisations are carefully synchronised with Deadmau5’s songs, creating the visual representations of an audio file. In this sense the audience can not only hear the music, but see it too.

What is happening in this process is first the manipulation of image and sound data that is subsequently distributed to a temporary public. The public are the consumers of this data that, in turn, respond by screaming, yelling, dancing, or merely following the light show with their eyes. This response signifies the relationship that is created via VJing; that is, the visual performance brings together a public that experiences a communal response via the senses, creating a perpetual exchange of effects and affects until the show ends. The public created in this space is merely temporary, and only exists so long as the spectacle is active.

More impressive is Deadmau5’s L.E.D Mau5head; a helmet-like stage prop that also projects manipulated data towards the audience. The Mau5head is comprised of 946 tricoloured L.E.D lights which move in synchronisation with the music. Moreover, the helmet is fitted with video-camera glasses, which are installed on the interior. These glasses extend the limitations of Deadmau5’s eyes with optical technology, in turn, creating Deadmau5’s own represented reality inside his helmet. He is thus experiencing a similar kind of spectacle, however, he is both a producer of it and a part of the audience merely experiencing it from another perspective.

Below is a video that displays the complex process needed to create Deadmau5’s extravagant live shows.


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