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Picture the following on one of the enormous Ultra Music Festival stages: 500 human-size Buddha statues from an ancient temple in Indonesia, some beheaded, some intact. It will happen, at least in two dimensions.
In her Aventura studio, Marina Reno, a.k.a. VJ Psyberpixie, double-clicks on one of the frames shot with her digital video recorder on a recent trip to Jakarta. "During the wars in Indonesia, that's what they used to do," she says. "They used to go out and cut off the heads of the statues the people that wanted to get rid of the Buddhists. I like this one." Psyberpixie zooms in on a headless Buddha; then the graduate of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, who majored in multimedia and television production, multiplies the stark image into fractals. It's a frame that festival-goers will likely see projected onto Ultra's massive LED screens, complementing DJ music and the crowd's response. Some viewers probably won't even realize what they've seen.
"I like to chop things up a lot. A second is like 29 frames, and I can put 60 or 80 frames on a second that's really sublime because you would have to see it over and over again to see the whole thing." During performances, Psyberpixie improvises, mixing images in real time to the beat. "I try to match the music. I think of myself as a visual bpm machine," she whispers excitedly while smiling, eyes widening and squinting but never leaving her monitors.
And if VJ Psyberpixie has missed anything since she formed her Miami-based visuals company Psybervision in 2003, it hasn't been a beat. In three short years, she has become one of a handful of sought-after VJs in this emerging visual music scene who produce the techno-colorful sights accompanying the sounds at top dance music concerts internationally. Psyberpixie was voted best VJ at WMC 2005 by Rave magazine. She has performed live visuals for Ultra the past three years, recently played the Candyland Festival and Bang!, has a weekly residency at Thewomb.com, and returned just this week from playing a festival with Infected Mushroom in Hermosillo, Mexico. Fortunately she and her partner Eric were able to sneak over to the Yucatan and take a foray into some Mayan ruins. Psyberpixie plans to mix that footage with her live visuals at Ultra too.
"Not all VJs are into it, but I like to shoot footage myself and use my own film for the visuals. Less often I remix stuff from a video stock library or other people's images. I used to do a lot of behind-the-scenes shooting of the rave scene and big music festivals, and the very first time I experienced visuals was at Zen Fest 97 in Orlando, and when I saw the facial expressions being evoked by the visuals, it hooked me instantly. I wanted to trigger emotions and provoke thoughts like that."
Psyberpixie's visual content is available for iPods and other devices online at www.arkaos.net and www.showfootage.com. Her files are so well liked in Asia that in March of last year, the most popular DJ in Indonesia DJ Naro contacted Psyberpixie and invited her to visit Jakarta and perform with him at a party sponsored by MTV. That's how she shot the footage of the beheaded Buddhas. On the flight back to Miami, as her partner Eric was reading the in-flight magazine, he found an interview with an Indonesian named VJ Noid who mentioned he liked using Psyberpixie's content packs.
"My boyfriend Eric said, öHey, Marina, you're in this magazine,' and I couldn't believe it. I had fans, sort of a following within the VJ scene. The VJ scene really just started taking off five years ago," says Psyberpixie, who represents herself as an anime character with fuchsia hair and a bow and arrow, "but it's good to know that I've been involved from the beginning."