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Hump Day Inspiration: Contributing to Oakland Visualist Luke Judd’s ‘Roving Projections’

April 18, 2012

Luke Judd is jovial, irreverent, and wants to brighten the dark corners of Oakland. I’ve had the pleasure of watching his video collages illuminate numerous local music gigs, like the New Parish show pictured above, as well the treetops of a Guerneville campsite and even my own backyard. To see his visuals up close and in person takes an evening into another realm. With an eclectic variety of footage, Judd’s work ranges from psychedelic to nostalgic to humorous, colorful, creepy, you name it. Kitten footage? He’ll show you kitten footage like you’ve never before seen.

“Often my work is funny and other times it’s quite unsettling. My inspiration is the discovery that occurs in the shuffling of these philosophical pieces. The more I add to my archive the potential combinations grow. At the end of a good night of mixing, I understand the world and/or myself a little better.”

Now he’s looking to take it a step further and light up the nights of Oakland with his proposed ‘Roving Projections.’ The video of his videos is like a copy of a copy- it hardly does his work justice- but presents the idea of building a mobile unit with its own power source so that he could trip the light fantastic anywhere, anytime. Spontaneous public art? Impromptu movie screenings? The possibilities are great, and I’m down.

There’s just over two weeks left on his Kickstarter and he’s already made more than a quarter of what he needs, check out his proposal video below. I asked him a few questions to find out more, see his answers below the jump!

BAB: How did you get into the visual arts?

LJ: I discovered I massively enjoy video editing in college and that I had a skill for sifting through large amounts of footage and pulling out tiny bits that told self contained stories. Later, I became focused on video loops. Finding and creating pieces of video that would hopefully grow more interesting and informative the more they played.

In 2005, I moved from Sonoma County to San Francisco. At that point I was just making short films and music videos. I loved video editing, but I hated that all this work went it to making something that was creatively dead to me once I’d finished. When a musician makes an album, that work is out in the world as is. It’s static but they can still tinker with it live. There’s still room for discovery. When a filmmaker is done with a piece, it is done. That’s what I mean by creatively dead. My roommate at the time, Daniel Mckenzie (Shuteye Unison, The Rum Diary, Built for the Sea) planted the seed and pointed me in the direction of live mixing software. Off I ran. Suddenly all this video I loved had new life and new meanings depending on the way they were contextualized.

After doing shows around San Francisco for about a year, practicing set lists beforehand and using the venues’ in house projectors and screens, I hit the road with The Aimless Never Miss on a national tour. It was a formative experience for me. Projecting in cafe houses, tiny venues and house parties taught me a punk rock ethic to projections that I still hold. I avoid screens whenever I can. It also taught me a lot about being present and improvising, as well as how the human mind will often do a lot of work for you as far syncing video and music. Nowadays, almost all my work is improvisational and based on my free association in the moment.

One of the most formative experiences in my life was a festival called Invisible Ocean. It was the first I’d ever projected outside in a natural environment. It blew my mind and I was hooked. It is one of my favorite things in the world, to be in the woods with friends lighting up trees. It was that festival that change my focus from video jockeying to manipulating larger video installations.

BAB: What inspired this idea?

LJ: The idea came from a desire to do ephemeral light graffiti essentially. To be able at a moment’s notice or inspiration take a message to the streets. Be set up in five minutes, be broke down in two. Have the ability to make content in the fly. Sometimes it will be subversive, sometimes it will be purely aesthetic.

It’s something I’ve been kicking around for years but seeing the impact of the projections during the Occupy Wall Street marches definitely lit a fire in me. I have a friend who was involved in the Aquapy boats and I saw how a public art protest connects with people in a way that chanting slogans doesn’t. I want to create moments where complete strangers stop and share a moment together. If you can get them to start a dialogue its even better.

What I’m trying to do is build a tool for collaboration more than I’m doing this to put my work out in the world. My hope is to help various artists to take their work or make works in the public spaces. Public Karaoke and Liberation Drive-In style movie showings are two other potential uses for this tool.

BAB: What impact do you hope to make on the city with this project?

LJ: I want complete strangers stop and share a moment together. A moment that they would have missed if they hadn’t not walked down that very street, at that very time. If you can get them to start a dialogue its even better. If I’m being overly optimistic, people will see the physical world a little differently. Maybe it will reveal possibilities in our daily lives we overlook. I won’t know if I don’t try.

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