Imagine an enchanted triangular portal. White lights synced to ethereal beats illuminate the cavernous walls. As you reach the other end, you’re transported to a science-fiction fantasy: a pyramid bursting in color — ruled by sound and constructed of light. If you went to last year’s III Points Festival, you don’t need to imagine; just relive the transcendent experience you had when walking into Mana Wynwood’s warehouse space. Jason Boogie, also known as VJ AV8, is the man who birthed this 3D wonder.
Boogie, who is a resident VJ for Bardot, Krisp, and Nightdrive Miami, never thought he’d be an artist. Maybe a “mechanic or union worker bee,” but if 18-year-old punk-rock Boogie saw the now-35-year-old working artist, he would simply not recognize himself.
Growing up in Hialeah in the ’90s, Boogie recalls being sent around to opportunity schools after poor behavior and grades led him out of Miami Springs Senior High. It wasn’t until he finally settled at a University of Miami-sponsored charter school for applied technology that he was introduced to PhotoShop and digital art.
“I took a photography class with a philosophy undertone, and that was my first exposure to everything. It was the first photo contest I entered, and I got a grant to go to college,” says Boogie. “Using a camera, I left the shutter open for a long time, and when I was developing it, I used a technique to capture different things on the image. I scanned that into PhotoShop, layered it a bit, and put effects.”
Despite his dedication, Boogie never graduated. One day, he crossed the street to smoke a cigarette and was manhandled by a security officer who accused him of trespassing. Boogie was quickly expelled.
“I honestly think when you have a certain appearance, people have a preset notion of what you’re going to be like,” he says. “The way I was going on, I felt jaded when it came to the system and the status quo.”
That didn’t stop him. While taking classes at Dade in the late ’90s, he began designing lights for theater shows, which eventually evolved into visual projections. It was the heyday for Miami’s underground warehouse rave scene, after all, so he needed music.
After watching a performance by Miss Kitten at Soho Lounge, he partnered with a friend and eventually nurtured The Womb, an internet TV show fusing electro beats with retro and modern visuals; it ran until 2004. Since then, Boogie has been injecting his cyborg musings all throughout Miami’s architecture. His work is known for repurposing existing space as a backdrop for a new piece using the digital to transform the analog.
“I try to catch people’s attention and help them mellow out using sound design to interpret the timing of the piece,” says Boogie.
Boogie’s latest project is taking place at the Temple House on Euclid Avenue in South Beach, a space that will be transformed to create a year-round full-time mapping installation. It will be used for corporate events but will also host projection-mapping workshops and bring in local artists to collaborate on new projects.
“I think it’s something that will benefit the community, inspire the kids, and see what else is out there,” he says. Though he insists all we really need is “water, meat, and air,” what Miami definitely needs is more Boogie.