Melbourne Music Week 2018 is almost here, and will host over 80 events across at dozens of Melbourne venues for 9 days in November (16th-24th). Closing MMW this year is, ‘A Nice Warm Bath’ (ANWB) an immersive A/V experience designed and curated by VJ & designer, Carla Zimbler, whose work has been featured at Australian and international festivals, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, and in exhibitions both locally and abroad.
We caught up with Carla for learn more about the ‘ANWB’ concept, A/V technology and the creative process.
The name ‘A Nice Warm Bath’ conjures feelings like, tension-relief, comfort and even healing – are these the feelings you’re hoping the production will inspire?
I should probably start with a little backstory.
A friend and I were walking through a forest amidst torrential rain in Borjomi, Georgia– a town famous for its water and hot springs, which was pretty ironic. We were soaked already and hadn’t even reached the springs yet. We had a combined thought that the most blissful thing both of us needed in that moment was a nice warm bath.
A passer-by mentioned that a few ‘healing pools’ were just a few KM’s further so we persevered and kicked on, not quite sure if they were a mirage or real. But we were pleasantly surprised; Inside the pool we felt our happiest and most positive selves, we felt recharged and stress-free, surrounded by local Georgians all taking in the ambience, slowness and peace.
We wanted to turn this feeling into an event that would inspire the same effect and impact without necessarily a water element. That’s where lighting, soundscapes + immersive visuals came into the mix. We thought we could ‘soak’ people in sound and colour and they can benefit from the same therapeutic qualities.
Outside of ‘ANWB’, much of your other work seems to invoke feelings of ‘liquid immersion’, what captivates you about fluid based imagery?
I always have the intention of wholly immersing and engaging audiences in a world that is limitless/borderless, constantly rotating and growing/shrinking – never truly fixed. I have a need for constant change, maybe my fear of feeling trapped or stuck translates as ‘fluidity’ in my work.
There is a freedom in fluid-based abstract imagery, with no definitive appearance, colour or shape. That kind of flexibility moulds to sound and allows it to be audio-reactive and dynamic. For me, something static/unchanging definitely induces anxiety, that’s why I moved into live VJ’ing – being able to animate abstract forms freely and spontaneously is a very liberating performance when in response to sound.
Can you tell me a bit about your ‘ANWB’ co-curators and the other artists involved, what will each be bringing to the event?
My co-curators Matt and Zoltan have supported me in realising the idea. They are incredibly talented musicians themselves and have helped me pool together a sound program for both the Dome and Courtyard space.
We are so lucky to have artists such as Anatole, Sara Retallick, HYMNS and Ju Ca on board to create atmospheric and site-specific soundscapes. To bring the bath to life I have curated a program of my favourite visual artists from across the east coast – Meagan Streader, Rachael Archibald and Kate Geck to name a few. I have chosen to collaborate with artists who engage with light, video, projection and even scent as a medium in order to turn the Mission to Seafarers into a meditative, immersive multi-sensory experience.
I couldn’t be more excited to present our line-up and to have the opportunity to create an event which showcases the most inspiring emerging sound and experimental visual artists of Australia.
You’ve done a ton of AV productions for festivals and other live music events on lots of different scales, I’d love to know what evolutions and changes you’ve seen in technology over the years and how they’re changing AV production and design at events both big and small. For instance, have technological changes/improvements inspired what sort of productions you can achieve for large scale events? And on the other side of the coin, has new technology made it easier for smaller music artists to include mixed media into their performances?
For most VJ’s I think the transition from an overhead projector w/ food dyes ‘liquid light’ into VJ software/hardware (video synthesisers) was the first shift. Now your adding real-time generative visuals (made with code) into the mix as well as interactive motion-tracking with the aid of Kinects.
Technology is growing so fast you can hardly keep up and the limits are constantly being pushed. A lot of visual designers are moving into TouchDesigner, Notch or utilising gaming engines to create environments which can be manipulated live. Its complex software which fuses together art and processing // data visualisation and definitely blurs boundaries. They are cheesy, but I’ve always been inspired by how technologically-advanced the Eurovision performances are – I guess I’ve attempted to mimic them on a much smaller scale.
You can definitely still create impact with less, and there are entry-level products and tools now available with more built-in features that makes certain tasks easier (such as mapping). The best change I’ve noticed is that VJ’s/video artists are slowly being featured on line-ups and being treated with the same level of respect as their DJ counterparts. Festivals such a Berlin Atonal, Lunchmeat, MUTEK, Athens Digital, Dekmantel really consider stage design to bring live visuals into the spotlight.
How do you approach different production scenarios, is there much difference between conceptualising imagery for large festival and a music video for an artist, and is the creative process the same when you’re working on your own curations rather than fulfilling an event brief?
It depends on what type of impact you are trying to create, or emotions you wish to evoke or heighten. Every project has a different intention as well as a particular aesthetic to consider. I always create a variety of visuals for various purposes and outlets – to be able to accurately realise an event brief and the curator’s dreams.
For large festivals, sometimes my work is spontaneous – I might not be familiar with the sound, in that case it is good to have a bank of themes and styles to choose from to be able to mix relevant imagery on the spot. When the visuals or video project has been custom-designed or tailored for a particular artist – you work from the ground up, brewing material from scratch. It is a collaborative and engaging process.
The best part about being the artistic director of ‘ANWB’ is that I can see my own personal vision come to life. It’s an emotional and very rewarding experience and I hope that A Nice Warm Bath will become a much larger, annual ambient audio-visual festival and platform for emerging artists.
Learn more About Carla Zimbler and her work at carlazimbler.com
All images and video via carlazimbler.com