Home » M-Powered Artists » Johnny DeKam

Johnny DeKam

Artist Info
Johnny DeKam

Video Artist, VJ and Software Designer

M-Audio Gear :
Axiom 25

Official Website:

Johnny DeKam is an internationally acclaimed video artist, VJ and software designer. In 1998 he founded the software company VIDVOX, which produces a preeminent software tool for live video production used by thousands of artists worldwide. As a VJ he has performed and toured with such notables as Sasha and John Digweed, Photek, Eminem, Deadbeat, Pure and most recently with electronic music pioneer Thomas Dolby. As a solo video artist DeKam has exhibited or performed at prestigious venues including Sonar, Transmediale, Mutek, Siggraph, The Museum of the Moving Image, KIASMA Helsinki, and the New York Video Art Festival. DeKam has recently expanded his repertoire by working with opera, theater and major concert tour productions.

Johnny DeKam
Video Artist/VJ/Software Designer (Thomas Dolby, Eminem, Sasha, John Digweed)

DeKam on his studio and M-Audio hardware: "My studio is a forward-facing 'white cube' space that allows me to project HD or SD video, but also easily convert it into a studio for doing video shoots. Sometimes I do both at the same time, processing live video on the projection screen and 're-scanning' the result in HD for documentation or to create new source material for my work. I use several Macs, a video mixer, a collection of vintage video equipment, cameras, and recently I've been getting into circuit-bending video hardware. One special piece of gear I have is a fisheye video projector from the Elumenati—with this I can project video on every surface of my studio from a single lens.

"I use M-Audio MIDI controllers as the primary physical interface for the software I create. Most of the software I make is developed in Max/MSP/Jitter, sometimes Quartz Composer—and of course I've also been using the new VDMX5 application from VIDVOX."

"My favorite controllers are the X-Session series, but I am also very fond of the Axiom 25 as a keyboard and triggering device. On the Dolby Tour I used two Axiom 25's side by side to trigger polyphonic video—they are built like tanks and worked flawlessly for the entire tour. I mapped the trigger pads on the Axiom to instantly colorize the video; this allowed me to treat the video as if it had movable color gels and interact with the light show in interesting ways. I really love the feel of the mod and pitch wheels, which I mapped as video crossfaders—they are much more tactile than normal sliders in this way, more like a T-bar on a video mixer."

What he is proud of: "I would have to say that VIDVOX is one of my crowning achievements, because it has had the most profound effect on the culture at large. With thousands of users, it is very satisfying to know that so many wonderful events happen all over the world, all enabled by my software invention(s). I can't take all the credit for VIDVOX, however. I passed the company on to some very talented programmers in 2004, and they're taking it to entirely new levels. But it was this move away from VIDVOX that I am also very proud of; it has allowed me to explore deep collaborations on large-scale projects and break new ground in my own personal work."

His creative process: "The primary process driving my entire career has been the concept of 'video instrumentalism'. This is the concept of liberating yourself from the timeline, which historically has been the primary way to edit video (and film). Instead, creating video is a musical, virtuosic performance. My primary pursuit is inventing new instruments for video to happen in real-time instead of rendering."

Why M-Audio? "M-Audio is pushing the envelope in the design of their MIDI controllers. The new DJ line from M-Audio represents a quantum leap in computer interface ergonomics. I have just been hired as the video director and VJ for a major progressive rock tour. We'll be hitting six continents over 12 months. I fully expect to use a rock-solid M-Audio controller to make the show happen without a hitch every night. They've never let me down."