Fusion On The Dance Floor

Shaun Patrick James, also known as PRICKIMAGE came to London from New Zealand 10 years ago and enrolled at London College of Communication (LCC) to study Digital Media Production BA. He was 26 years old, had trained as a chef and spent the previous decade working in hospitality, before taking the leap back to education

Seven years after graduating, he is now resident video jockey (VJ) at clubs KOKO and Fabric, video consultant for Glass magazine, spends his summer playing at Space in Ibiza and major UK festivals, and his Walkabout Projectorwas recently featured in the Chemical Brothers’ film, Don’t Think.

Collaborations

Initially it was an interest in photography that steered him into his chosen course, but as it evolved he began to move into video and film. With a history of collaborations with the likes of Quayola, Trailer Trash and Sink the Pink, he is now making a career out of his passion.

Arts London News met him at his apartment in central London, where he made some tea and settled down with a bowl of Bombay mix. He began by telling us about the most exciting of his current projects, United Disciplines: “It’s a collection of songwriters, dancers, philosophers, interactive programmers and VJs,” he explained, “we are going to fuse live music and dance with live and reactive visuals and 3D holographic effects.”

United Disciplines has been nominated for a Musion Academy Media Awards (MAMAs) 2012 Award in the performance category and the winner will be presented at the Kinetica Art Fair on February 9. The MAMAs recognise people who have found new and creative uses for the Musion Eyeliner, the industry leader in 3D holographics.

Trailer Trash

James has always been keen on collaborating with others rather than working alone, his fondest memories recall when he had the opportunity to work with his peers. “I felt very creatively stifled at LCC. The degree itself didn’t actually teach me what I wanted to learn; being able to team up with other students was where I gained new skills.

“In my final year, I was living with Quayola who had done five years of art school prior to coming to LCC and was only there to gain the technical know-how. We worked on a few projects together and he taught me to do the whole video thing – that’s when things became really fun.”

Shaun Patrick James
“I felt very creatively stifled at LCC. The degree itself didn’t actually teach me what I wanted to learn; being able to team up with other students was where I gained new skills.”

It was not until he graduated in 2005 that he got his first gig. Having attended Trailer Trash parties since they started in 2002, he approached the organisers and told them: “You’ve been playing the same DVD since I’ve been coming here, you need to change it.” He offered to produce some video for them but at the time they had nothing in their budget to pay him. He did it anyway and came up with the name PRICKIMAGE to credit his work.

“My objective was to show my work, so I started making these crazy little videos – people kept saying they were quite surreal, just experimental weird videos and I used the club nights as an exhibition space. That was my initial objective, to get people to see them. The environment helped me create an aesthetic of using bright colours and dark backgrounds, which is very similar to an underground rave aesthetic.”

He came to the same agreement with a few other people and it soon proved to work in his favour: “Andy Bell from Erasure contacted me on MySpace because he saw my name in two different clubs around Shoreditch on the same night. I did the visuals for their tour and got paid. That’s when I stopped the catering jobs and decided to completely concentrate on expanding PRICKIMAGE. It all happened really quickly, I didn’t have time to come up with a plan because the plan just happened.”

Latitude to Glastonbury

Marcus Lyall – visual director for the Chemical Brothers – saw James work a few times last year before getting in touch,  “The first time I collaborated with Pikilipita he saw us at Café 1001 in Brick Lane for an event called ElectroVision. He later saw me doing it at Latitude festival with Noise of Art and again at Glastonbury.

“He knew what I was doing, he knew it was getting better and he wanted to use it. So he called me and asked if he could borrow the kit. They knew they were making the movie and they wanted to do something special for it. They used it to project on people’s faces, on the ground, on trees, anywhere that wasn’t the main stage.”

During his degree James spent his time out of class working in bars and restaurants around the capital and as a result he never had the time to gain any work experience. He recognises the importance of a vocational placement and in hindsight wishes he had a chance to take part. He knows the benefits and experience that interning provides and has invited young people not yet working in the industry to assist him on various projects. Currently interning with him is LCC second year GMD Interaction and Moving Image student, Rafael Filomeno.

“I enjoy the opportunity of sharing ideas” explains James, “and because of the course Rafael’s doing our work fits together rather nicely. I’m always looking for keen multi-skilled people for future collectives. What I need now is someone to help me with my social network marketing, and to look after my website.”

365 days a year

Shaun Patrick James video jockeying Credit to: [Lauren McDougall]

Summer 2011 was spent VJing for the likes of Sink the Pink, Digital Insanity and with WetYourSelf – the London techno and house night – for six resident Saturdays at Space Ibiza. However James would say that the winter months are much busier – it is the season when he evolves what he does and applies it to different things: “I never stop having something to do – you can take a big break if you want and wait for people to come and contact you but I have multiple projects going on at the same time, and I always need to be working on at least one, there’s always something that needs to be done.”

Winter is a hectic time for corporate events and James has attracted attention from a range of clients including the Carphone Warehouse, the National Gallery and Metro newspaper with Walkabout Projection. He is not alone in using this kind of projector, in fact he actually got the idea from someone else: “I saw a Mexican guy doing it online so I contacted him but he told me to get in contact with his technical guy, and he never got back to me.”

So he hooked up with ‘Fat Butcher’, another London-based VJ, and they created their own venture, Moth. They did some work with the Up Projects and a few assignments funded by the Arts Council but unfortunately, the two of them had very different ideas: “I was more into developing the technology of it,” James explains, so he did just that.

What differs with his is that it is almost 10 times lighter than any of the rest on the market. “Everyone else is using wheelchair and car batteries. I’m using broadcast camera batteries provided by PAG UK, who have sponsored the research and development project for the projector.”

As he progresses and gets busier he will take more people on board because he cannot do it all himself, and he does not want to either: “I get bored, I like coming up with the concepts and passing the work on so I can move on to the next thing as soon as possible.”

We asked him what inspires him and where he finds the passion to come up with ideas, he says: “Everyday life, and the people in everyday life.”