The Nature of Being

Stills from The Nature Of Being (2008) by Olga Mink & Scanner
© Olga Mink & Scanner, courtesy the artists

Olga Mink is a Dutch media artist who works in digital media, visual performance, and interactive art. She began her visual performance career in 1999 as a club VJ, but eventually found VJing limiting and has since transitioned primarily to live cinema performance. Mink explains: I like to create something that contains a closer and personal collaboration with live musicians. Playing with DJs in clubs, there was no communication or concept most of the time. There was no specific “artistic” relation between audio and video. Working as I do now gives a more personal touch, which I enjoy much more. Also, the aspect of time makes it more interesting to perform in a live cinema setting. You can create a tension, a narrative, a suspension in this limited amount of time. Just like a concert or a band playing live. The audience is focused to absorb the audiovisual experience, and there’s a synergy with the live aspect. In clubs that is not so much the case, in my experience. The visuals are relegated to the role of moving wallpaper mainly.[1]

However, Mink also acknowledges the debt that live cinema owes to VJing: Live cinema in general would have never been able to flourish that much without VJing becoming such a successful aspect in clubs from the beginning.[2]

Like many live cinema artists, Mink likes to create a nuanced relationship between sound and visuals. Recognizing that avoiding a direct relationship between the two may make it more difficult for audiences to realize that the visuals are being performed live, Mink says: I like to think that the audience doesn’t know whether they are watching a film, a documentary, an installation, or a live cinema performance. Blurring these borders interests me. Not everything should be directly translated to what it could sound or look like. It is more interesting when different tracks, both visual and audio, come closer towards each other and then depart again, and find their own way. The live setting and improvisation are therefore very important and make each performance unique in its own way.[3]

Mink’s performance work includes The Nature of Being, a 2008 collaboration with musician Scanner. Images of natural and built environments are projected on three screens behind Mink and Scanner. The piece illustrates Mink’s interest in nonliteral relationships between audio and video, as the relationships are interpretive rather than direct. But the juxtapositions are not just between image and music, but also between images themselves: Mink at times uses the three screens as a visual counterpoint to one another, generating internal rhythms as the movement on each of the screens plays off the others. In the end, the counterpoint shifts to unison as the three screens become windows onto a single large image. The effect is similar to a resolution in music; the imagery shifts from dissonance and suspense to resolve in consonance—the abstract narrative in The Nature of Being plays out as much through the formal elements of the images as through their content.


  • original Title: The Nature of Being
  • Date: 2008
  • Genre: Performance