Genlock You Don’t Stop: A Journey Through Video

There was an era in the mid to late 80’s where videos weren’t cheap. So when rave and hiphouse/hiphop came along they needed something for MTV and Top of the Pops etc – so enter the stand in front of a screen video, usually with graphics ‘genlocked’ (aka ‘keyed’) ie. placed digitally behind them, or stock video, even more cheaply projected behind them…and loads of silly dancing. Like this (Keith Haring a B movie inspired) from Double Trouble and Rebel MC, Street Tuff:

https://youtu.be/pD0HmlEUg6o

Other ones include A Guy Called Gerald’s Voodoo Ray, which owes rather a lot to Len Lye’s Colour Box, uses computer animation and projection, and suddenly I feel an unusual desire for Sanatogen, not MDMA:

https://youtu.be/5ADoBW0c-18

Neneh Cherry might be more famous now for cookery programmes, but in 1987 she was standing in front of a screen with some very embarassing earrings. Am I bovvered?
Pointless fact: it was produced by Tim Simenon, aka Bomb the Bass hence the reference to Tim and Timmy, you might hear from that person shortly…

Obviously one of the problems was the complete anonymity of the dance music at the time – few vocals, no ‘stars’, just rhythm. What to do? Well what about constructor worker garb, ripped video game graphics, weird building shots (cos it’s house! geddit?) and dodgy mosaic effect (cos it’s the nu digital age, right?) – so here’s Jack n Chill. Erm…

ACCCIEEEDDD! Certain Residents inspiration to this one – the tune was banned in the UK so never shown fully:

And as rave took over, the videos got cheaper and more like Amiga demos, which is funny because they were probably produced on the Amiga as with Prodigy’s Charly:

And FSOL aka Stakker Humanoid were making their own 3D videos (Amiga probably too :-D) which seem very ahead of their time:

And apparently you should move your body over glowing radioactive lava fields:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=z7gXmKCFGmo>

and some actually became soundtracks for Amiga games:

Also pop got in the act twith bigger crowds but basically the same idea (1990)

As an aside, it’s interesting because I remember seeing videos by Cerith Wyn Evans using these overlay techniques from the early 80’s, and of course one of Leigh Bowery’s videos which was shot purely in a video booth at the Tropicana in London using the same idea…sadly neither are on YouTube but I’ve had a lot of fun looking at video of Leigh, he was a lovely man.

Anyway back to the (day)glowing outline 90’s – what’s interesting is that those with bigger budgets co-opted that ‘dance in front a screen’ style but maybe lost something of the original charm:

And then you have modern day, were the whole thing was co-opted by the new rave scene – such as the pisstaking Trashfashion:

and the MGMT Time to Pretend video which I refuse to link because they’ve obviously asked everyone who posted the video to disable embedding – they or their record company REALLY don’t understand new media and should be slapped. So there.

One Comment

  1. Chuck Blade
    July 7
    Reply

    It’s a rave Dave…takes me back…

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