Tokyo, home to the audiovisual scene and birthplace of Motion Dive, must be at least one candidate. Photo: Joi Ito.

It’s time for a little geographical smackdown. Opening my inbox today, I found this query from Andrew Zukoski:

If you were going to travel to 3 or 4 cities outside of north america to look at visualist practice, where would you go?

Good question. So, let’s hear it – enough of the “grass is greener mentality,” where are you that has a terrific scene? Now, CDMotion co-editor-at-large Jaymis Loveday and I have been all the way to Perth, Australia, supposedly the world’s most isolated major city, and visited a hopping scene of Fairlight lovers there. So, let’s not just talk obvious choices. Where out there on the planet has interesting scenes? Does the place you live have something going for expressive digital visuals?

Natural choices include, off the top of my head and in no particular order, places like Melbourne, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Paris, London, Barcelona… okay, actually, lots of places. But what places are most important? And what would we not think off the top of our heads?


Updated: Yes, you can include North America, too. (Montreal, New York, Mexico City, and the list goes on…)

  • good intent, wrong question – visualism isn't bounded by geography!

    a tour of meetings and festivals, that would be the thing. cities play their part more as a ongoing support network, ref., than a showcase for visitors.

  • Well, it isnt, this is true toby. But yeah, I can say personally want to go to Berlin though 🙂

  • Will Copps

    Why are we leaving off North America?

  • I'm assuming the person asking is coming FROM North America to other places… but let's include North (and South, and Central) America, too.

    Toby — totally agree, *but* we are corporeal beings, so I'm curious to hear where people are and what inspiration they get from that scene.

  • Unluckily for me, my place, Santiago de Chile, South America, seem to have a quite dead scene if theres any. Nothing like our Argentinian neighbours. If i'm wrong (which i'd like to be) let me know. So far what i've seen is just te regular clip trigerring VJing or prerendered stuff but no mind-blowing realtime truly performatic and expresive audiovisual shows, even though i'm improving my skils to, eventualy, achieve so.

  • massta

    Visualist cities are only as good as the people who come out to watch the VJ's. So where is the best place to be a VJ performer?

  • What, aside from the special magical city in my mind? 😉

  • Hugo

    Lisbon 🙂

  • I sure enjoyed Lisbon. More specifics on what it's like there?

  • massta – well 800 people came out to see a d-fuse live cinema show in rio de janeiro *on a tuesday night*. and the host multiplicidade were really amazing too, so thats where my audience vote goes for at the moment!

    (and hello hugo, i'm writing this from lisbon having performed at abertura, and can certainly say its a wonderful place. so textural to boot, the faded glamour of the place is so visually compelling).

  • grigori

    one planet. anywhere really.

  • Polite

    Strangely you've probably seen more of the Perth visual scene than I have, and I've lived here most of my life.

    Most gigs here have pretty poor visuals, if any at all. Every so often you get someone VJing, but it's usually *very* amature.

    The only club here with interesting visuals that I know of is Shape.

  • Polite

    Also kicking myself for missing that Perth visual event. I didn't find out about it until after it happened. Strange considering I've been reading both CDM blogs for years. >_<

  • Vienna – though I'm heavily biased by living here 😉

  • massta

    toby*spark, thanks for filling us in. Is rio de janeiro mostly local VJ fanactics, party-goers or was the 800 mostly tourists? I'm guessing, but it seems to me that most large VJ stages are in that area of the world where it's party central with or without VJs. I thought NYC would be huge considering the number of people is a small area, but the turnout is minuscule compared foreign cities.

  • Well, to me what makes a scene is the people you wind up getting to know. If a city brings people together, then you love that city for it.

    I can speak to my own experience in New York…

    I'm really indebted to Holly and Eric at Forward Motion Theater and their Eyewash event. It doesn't happen any more, but it used to be fantastic hanging out at Remote. Some of the work was awful – hell, some of my early work was really awful – and some of it was brilliant. You sort of never knew exactly what to expect, though.

    You don't have to be in some huge metropolis to set up an environment in which people can play and experiment. (In fact, it's probably easier if you're *not*.) So that was what's been great about some of these events.

    We're also lucky in NYC in that we've had stuff like the Digital Media fellowship at Dance Theater Workshop. (Sadly, that project is gone now.) Getting to know Mark Coniglio (creator of Isadora and, though no one remembers it, Interactor) was really great; he had lots of useful advice.

    I don't know if NYC is the best city in the world for visualists, but I can guarantee you we'll show you a good time if you drop by. 😉 And conversely, I'm happy to go anywhere in the world. Toothbrush is packed.

  • Of course, if the scene really is international, any thoughts on what the best way is to help make a virtual space for that?

  • Iceland?

    It would be great to project onto massive icebergs! Imagine the mapping possibilities! hehe

  • What, not one shout-out for Troy? That's where it's happening, baby.

  • Ha – I am definitely planning a trip up to Troy, no question.

  • Will

    Iceland would be SO cool. Actually an interesting music scene there… Ampop and other large bands there just don't make it over here. But Iceland more for the landscapes… Greenland is where the great icebergs are.

    Peter- Any other cities in the U.S.? I can't think of any (I'm from DC and it's just not happening here yet).

    I wish everyone would use that Global VJ Map. I think it's incredibly interesting and relevant to this post!

  • @Peter, so far this blog has done a pretty good job. Maybe some sort of location based newsletter/website with the upcoming vjing events. There are some of those specialized on certain events(music, arts, parties, etc.) but I don't know of anyone specialized in VJing. Maybe a map based thing so you can easily find vjing events near your place or when traveling abroad.
    So far i bult this google maps with the places mentioned here. Anyone can feel free to edit/add places.

  • View Best Visualsits Cities in a larger map

  • I think Tokyo would be waaaaaaaaaaaaay better for visual minded artists then Perth would dream of for a while…. think about it! 🙂

    I also would probably note places like Bergen in Norway where they have been supporting open source audio video culture for a number of years with BEK and Piksel. One of the places in the world where I definately aiming for.

    Personally I have been putting a bit of effort into Cairns scene up in north Queensland and throughout the year we run number of visually intensive events that stretch for days and sometimes weeks on outdoor front. Aiming to set some for indoor experimental use within next few months. + we have very good flight prices between us and tokyo too atm 🙂 300

    sydney and melbourne are worth the mention… its definately evolving and i enjoy to play there everytime i get a chance.

    you can never underestimate international circuit of artists from non english speaking countries as well… most capital cities in europe would have very interesting scenes evolving. Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Holland, UK, France have very solid crews around the palce which make up for the overall environment of the scene development. Asia: South Korea(definately), few places around Indonesia and China are producing some interesting talents as well.

  • Daniel

    I don't think Melbourne is in North America.

  • Istanbul 🙂 you have to see it.

  • maasta – i suspect that audience was due to multiplicidade's reputation, where they'd be doing 100 capacity events for years and this was the first one in a big theatre. but seemingly every hip designer and their friends had come out that night… so yeah, perhaps not entirely repeatable but still amazing.

  • @Daniel – oops. Fixed. I obviously have Melbourne on the brain for some reason. I meant Montreal. Melbourne can be an honorary North American city, though. (Like an honorary doctorate…)

  • I've been in Asheville, NC for 3 years and I have to say it's been a great place places to be a visualist. I've been able to play out several times a week and folks seem pretty appreciative and interested in the medium.

    There's also wonderful support from a media arts non-profit (, a diverse group of multidisciplinary artists to collaborate with and a growing interest in data viz via NOAA's NCDC and The Elumenati… living in the mountains doesn't hurt either.

  • @polite: re Perth visuals, I guess it depends where you're looking. We have run Plug n Play on and off here for a few years, but we don't advertise it much. If people don't know us through CDM or VJ Central or whatever, then I guess you could live in Perth all your life and not know the VJ scene here. There aren't a lot of fulltime VJs in Perth, but I don't think we're particularly "amature" with our visuals 😛

    I love Barcelona and Sevilla for visuals – we saw projection everywhere, in laneways etc. Awesome to see it break out of nightclubs. Also Criel, about an hour north of Paris – we saw some excellent visuals there a few years ago.

  • @Peter – totally with you there about NYC. Holly and Eric have done so much for the visualist community with EyeWash 🙂

  • Make that Creil not Criel – that place rocked, and VJs are a really acknowledged part of the scene: