Marjorie Becker (Chiptography) is a photographer and a friend to the chiptune community. According to her website, her pictures have been published in places like Time’s website, Kotaku, EGM, and Time Out New York. This NYC native is looking forward to seeing Tokyo to attend Blip Festival Tokyo.
She currently has a Kickstarter project that needs support. At the time this interview’s published, there’s less than a week left to help in the funding effort. I thank Ms. Becker for taking the time to answer these questions. Hopefully, readers will develop a further appreciation for chiptunes.
Red-Headed Mule: Is photographer your current day job?
Marjorie Becker: I walk dogs in Manhattan as my day job. I used to be a commercial photographer in 2006 but decided to peruse a job that would allow me to focus my creativity on my own personal work. However, I’m looking forward to re-entering into a photography career in the next year.
RHM: How did you learn photographic techniques?
MB: I have a bachelor’s of science degree in Photography from Drexel University but I developed my techniques a few years after I left school. I learn by looking at the work of others and trying to apply different ideas and techniques.
I think as artists we sometimes we get hung up on the technical aspects of our craft and can be held back creatively. It was difficult for me to let go of the perfectionist tendency to have complete control and knowledge of my instrument (camera) and to just have fun and play. After seeing the amazing work done by chip musicians with devices that presented limitations I felt inspired to put aside my books and articles about the techniques of using a digital camera and how to be a photographer and just used my camera to experiment. I used settings that I’ve been warned to stay away from because of degraded image quality.
They allowed me to shoot with little light and that opened the door for me to have fun making work. Once I started having fun I learned better ways to shoot with low light conditions and retain quality.
RHM: How did you get involved in chiptune culture?
MB: In 2006, was invited to shoot portraits at the first Blip Festival for 2 Player Productions. Although I wasn’t asked to shoot the live performance something about it drew me in and inspired me to start photographing it. I was invited back the next year for the same project but decided to shoot every live performance as my own personal project. Since then, I started to attend smaller shows and made it my passion to capture every and any live chip music performance I could.
RHM: What 8 or 16-bit video games have you played?
MB: I actually never played video games. As a child, they weren’t allowed in my house so I snuck in some Tetris on my friend’s Game Boy whenever I had a chance.
RHM: Do you help organize any of the Blip Festivals?
MB: I didn’t help organize any of the Blip Festivals but my images have been used on the Festival’s websites and for promotion.
RHM: Your Kickstarter page states that the Blip Festival is “on pause” after Tokyo.
How did that happen?
MB: This was announced by 8bitpeoples last July. Information about this can be found at http://www.8bitpeoples.com/
[Here's the relevant text - Ed.]
All the while, the organizational team behind-the-scenes has remained a very small and hands-on crew. Running it all has been an immensely rewarding experience, but also incredibly demanding, and often monopolizing our energy and efforts at the expense of other 8bitpeoples projects. So after careful deliberation, we’ve decided that this October’s Blip Festival Tokyo 2012 will be the last installment of the Blip Festival event series for the foreseeable future.
RHM: How is the New York scene different than other parts of chip music culture?
MB: I haven’t had the opportunity to venture out of NYC however I do have the pleasure of meeting people from around the world each year at Blip Festival. It’s hard to tell the differences of the culture during this event as we are all so unified in the passion of our community.
One difference that I am aware of is the fact that New York city seems to have become the epicenter of the scene with many artists living locally or close by and several shows a month.
VIDEO: Nullsleep at Blip Festival NYC 2012 uploaded by 8bitpeoples
RHM: According to your Kickstarter page, you use a Nikon D200. What other tools do you use for photography?
MB: I recently was able to upgrade to a Nikon D700 which has technology to help me get more out of the small amount of light I usually contend with at shows. I shoot primarily with prime lenses opposed to telephoto. This means that I have to physically move my body or change to a completely different lens to zoom in and out of a frame. I’m looking into some zoom lenses to add to my toolbox but at the moment the environment of chip shows has been kind enough to afford me this luxury.
RHM: Have you visited Japan before?
MB: I’ve never visited Japan before. I have pretty bad travel anxiety but I’m mentally preparing myself months ahead of time to cope with this. My love for this scene and for Blip Festival also helps me to overcome this anxiety because I feel that it’s extremely important to have this event documented.
RHM: Why did you choose Kickstarter over funding methods for your photo documentary?
MB: I’ve helped to fund several projects through Kickstarter for friends and family. I like the processes that are involved with making a project and how it enables creative dreams to come to fruition.
RHM: Who are some of your favorite chiptune artists?
MB: I hate this question! There’s so much talent but it’s beyond just having talent. For the most part, the people who are drawn to make this kind of music are consistently genuine and beautiful people. I’ve never encountered a community like this anywhere else.
RHM: Other than concerts, what are some interesting events and places in New York City currently?
MB: New York City has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming so I keep it simple. When I’m not shooting chip shows you can either find me hanging out with my dogs in Brooklyn, biking with friend or visiting the MoMA or the Met.
RHM: What is the most amusing chiptunes instrument you’ve seen?
MB: It’s hard to beat cTrix’s gAtari. It’s quite incredible.
[That's the image on the top of this article, natch. - Ed.]