Singapore Music News: We Begin Our New VJ Series With The Analogue Glitch Art Of worm.grrl (2023)While DJs hype up the crowd in the spotlight, VJs work their magic behind the scenes. We kick off our new series with Clare Chong AKA worm.grrl.
While DJs hype up the crowd in the spotlight, VJs work their magic behind the scenes. We kick off our new series with Clare Chong AKA worm.grrl.
Parties are essentially multi-sensorial experiences, and what you see is often just as significant as what you hear. What visions manifest when you hear the beating heart of a kick drum? What sights take shape to complement the ambience of a pop-up locale? The synchronicity between music and visuals is a complex and technically-proficient dance, and helming the latter are artists and VJs who tend to take a backseat at shows. While DJs hype up the crowd in the spotlight, VJs work their magic behind the scenes and don’t get quite as much publicity. And that’s why we’re kicking off this series called VIS-À-VISUAL.
For the debut edition of VIS-À-VISUAL, we’re zeroing in on Clare Chong who goes by the alias worm.grrl. An accomplished film maker and director whose works have appeared at film festivals all around the world, Clare has taken her knack for storytelling and weaved it into the medium of VJ-ing that pushes her craft to fresher frontiers. Her fondness for analogue glitch art has inspired her to express herself through installations on vintage analogue televisions and projections on historical structures, a trait you’ll commonly see with her regular collaborations with Ice Cream Sundays. It’s an old-school approach that feels refreshingly contemporary, and like an alluring TV show that razzles and dazzles, you just can’t take your eyes off it.
Here to tell us more about her modus operandi is worm.grrl herself. Tune into the channel of Clare’s visual imagination.
Clare Chong: “As someone with a filmmaking background, I tend to seek out cinematic visuals. However, for live visuals, I've chosen to explore an analogue glitch art format that is the complete opposite. I also tend to go for psychedelic imageries, bright colours and wavy lines, very much like the way I like to paint.
I enjoy working with distorted, low-quality images that move chaotically and quickly, overstimulating the viewer. Currently, I own numerous old CRT TVs that I manipulate visuals on, and I spend quite a bit of time nowadays bending the signals and gazing at the screen for extended periods. For me that’s what I take inspiration from. Additionally, I appreciate using found footage and random video clips that I transform into video loops using glitch processors.”
Clare: “VJ-ing is the complete opposite of making a film for me; it’s a somewhat solitary experience. It feels more like painting to be honest. I take VJ-ing as a way to explore more into the medium of video rather than a cinematic experience, so I try to stay as far away as what I would find conventionally ‘cinematic’. For me, making live visuals is a space to learn and experiment, and I’m always trying out new workflows, and new ways of bending signals for every gig that I do.
There is also a live element to VJ-ing (of course), and I think this is a very nice middle ground for me. I hate being in the limelight and being in front of a crowd and performing, but being right at the back and still able to perform in some way brings me a lot of joy.”
Clare: “For Ice Cream Sundays where they brought in Rainbow Disco Club, I really, really wanted to project on this large 15m tall structure at Haw Par Villa. I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own, so I roped in Jaymi McManus to help me with the technical aspects, and Bcube did the set up. It was so inspiring seeing them work, and to see my own work on such a huge canvas! This was also the most technically challenging project to execute, as I was trying to integrate live analogue glitch processors into my workflow.
I also really loved my previous set ups for Ice Cream Sundays where I got to feature all my CRT TVs. I’m a little obsessed with them at the moment and have a love-hate relationship with how unpredictable they are. Sometimes they just die on you and a few minutes later they turn back on, but either way I’ve developed some feelings for each of these TVs and would love to feature them in my work more often.”
Clare: “The biggest challenge for me was learning everything from scratch from the Internet. It’s pretty niche (especially when I’m working with circuit bending and really old TVs etc), so troubleshooting is really really hard. I am constantly on Reddit and GitHub trying to get answers, I have way too many YouTube tabs open, and I’m constantly buying random gear parts that sometimes don’t work. My technical knowledge is also not the best, so I definitely faced a huge learning curve last year. Oh and also because I only started learning this a little less than a year ago, there’s still a lot more that I don’t know, so I’m trying to learn constantly and at a fast pace.
The other aspect of this is gear – a lot of money has to be spent on gear, and even though I do get paid for my work, I usually reinvest the money into getting better equipment. Even when you think you’ve got better equipment, there’s always something better, and it can be pretty tough to keep up!”
Clare: “I have LoFi Future’s T420 and I absolutely LOVE working with it. I recently got a Roland V8 and it’s been creating some really funky transitions. I’m very excited to incorporate this into more gigs.
I definitely am going in the opposite direction here though. There are a lot of refined, beautiful, sharp images done on Touch Designer, Notch etc. for VJ-ing, but these kinds of crisp sharp visuals don’t really interest me. I’m not sure if there’s a huge market for my glitchy aesthetics, but it’s what excites me so I’m going to keep doing that.”
Clare: “I think it’s a matter of personal taste, but there are some really cringey visuals out there. I went to a gig once and someone had these massive diamonds rotating on screen. It was quite bad. Then again, what I think is bad might be beautiful to someone else and something that really enhances the experience. Some people might also dislike my visuals, so who knows? As long as it creates a vibe, we’re all good.”
Follow worm.grrl on her Instagram page to discover more of her art.