Friday, November 14, 2008

An interview with Megan McKissack

I often seek the advice of Megan McKissack when I'm working on video projects. I trust her eye, her opinions, and her technological know-how. Megan developed the opening title to Art Seen Asheville, and has helped with production of "Sewing the Muse." She has made leaps and bounds as a video projection artist over the past two years both technically, and creatively, and best of all she's really cool to hang out with.

ASA: How did you get into video projecting and electronic media in general?
MM: I started out editing my partner Ben's music show on the local public access station, URTV about two years ago and working with my friend Scott Furr who is a vj. Scott was the first person I had seen do that style of video performance and I was blown away. He introduced me to the software and got me started with how to use it and we started doing shows in tandem. I have always been fascinated by and impressed with the potential of computers but had never really had a worthwhile computer until four years ago, I was typing papers on a manual typewriter until about my second year of college. I guess now I'm making up for that by trying to learn as much as I can.

ASA: Describe what you do.
I curate video clips and edit them down to their essential parts and then use video mixing software similar to a dj and play and mix clips live in reaction to music played by a band or dj.

ASA: How do you find your images?
Some clips I make myself but a large amount of clips I use come from places like youtube, (which has a lot of open creative commons videos) and old vhs tapes that I find.

ASA: What are you looking for when searching for imagery?
When working with a band or dj, I start thinking about a theme or a mood that the music expresses to me and then collect imagery that I feel relates. I am really biased toward videos that are homemade and more lo-fi. I usually don't like to use video that is too high quality unless aesthetically it is of a beautiful subject. I like using youtube videos because they express a human touch, there is bad lighting or glitches in the video, they are never seamless and perfect, a quality that makes them attractive to me.

ASA: What programs do you use and why? what are you learning? what is your
favorite program?
I use final cut pro, vdmx (video mixing software), quicktime, and photoshop almost daily. VDMX is wonderful in that you can take the basic elements that the program provides and build a custom video mixing system suited to you, in that same respect it can be challenging because you don't just open the program and start mixing. It makes for a really dynamic program in that you can constanly learn about and change the program from top to bottom. I'm also trying to learn more about adobe after effects and quartz composer.

ASA: What has been the most challenging event you've done?
The most challenging event so far has been working on the Arts Council Purple Ball. I had spent a lot of time preparing video to go on all of the screens in the building plus using the projector as a lighting source for a dance performance but on the very day of the event nothing was working so I spent every last minute right up until the start of the event redoing a lot of the work I had done and it came together just in the nick of time. It was the most stressfull thing I have ever done but the staff at 11 on grove were extremely helpful in getting everything together.

ASA:Tell us about a really fun event.
After everything came together for the Purple Ball, it turned out to be a great event. I worked with Brooke Priddy projecting onto an 8 foot tall dress that she made for a singer to wear at the Purple Ball. I loved being able take the projection off of a flat wall or screen and onto the architecture of the dress.

ASA: What is your favorite thing?
The smell of old books

ASA: What video artists or people in general inspire you.
I really like the work of Takeshi Murata, Stan Vanderbeek, Josef Albers but I'm really inspired by my friends and other artists I have meet here in Asheville, they consistently do amazing work despite not have any support from the community at large and performing even when they don't get paid.

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