Liquid projections

A local resident uses oils to make visually appealing blends during musical performances. 

Colorful, molecular-like objects dance across the wall, each different from the one before. They paint a shadow of a mesmerizing color show that can only be captured in the heat of the moment.

For Patrick Fitzgerald, who goes by his stage persona Liquid Projections, mixing different oils and paints is a creative outlet that he enjoys performing live.

“A lot of times, the audience thinks it’s a video,” Fitzgerald said. “The people in the front realize it’s happening right in front of them and start watching what I’m doing instead.” 

Most audience members think the projections are a video due to the vibrant colors that play overtop the bands while they’re performing.

Working for the Arts Council of the Valley full time and as a freelance videographer, Fitzgerald started Liquid Projections as a hobby.

As Liquid Projections, Fitzgerald works with different bands that perform downtown.

Blending different oils and colors is a skill that Fitzgerald has developed through years of experience. Using a series of liquids and dyes on a glass plate on an overhead projector, Fitzgerald mixes his own colors in order to make each of his performances unique.

Fitzgerald uses colors that compliment each other, such as pink, blue, orange and yellow on a screen to form his projections. He believes that the vibrancy of each color is one of the most important aspects, because it adds different feelings and moods to the music he matches his work to.

“I have a really hard time getting away from vibrant pinks and blues because they just look awesome together,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald tries to stay away from harsh, dark colors unless they fit the mood of the music, although he pairs these harsher colors with metal shows.  

Fitzgerald has worked with Zooanzoo, a frequent performer around Harrisonburg’s downtown performance scene, at several venues, including The Golden Pony.

Zooanzoo’s electric, fast-paced music gives Fitzgerald the opportunity to experiment more with different colors and the way they’re projected onstage.

“His show was probably one of the messiest ones,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald uses bubbling effects to match the tempo of the music when it’s fast-paced. To achieve these effects, Fitzgerald throws Alka-Seltzer tablets in the liquids to form the bubbles.

“It adds a different energy to the colors,” Fitzgerald said.

When working a fast-paced show, Fitzgerald said one of the main challenges he faces is trying not to mix too many of the colors to create a muddy brown.

“I’ve gotten way overzealous before and just ended up with a mess,” Fitzgerald said.

These projections have caught the attention of different bands and DJs from around the area that come to see performances downtown.

“His projections overtop a diverse array of bands, from the chaotic Malatese set to a space-jam, all have shattered expectation,” Zach Williams, aka ZooanZoo, said.

Never having advertised for Liquid Projections, Fitzgerald bases a majority of his gigs on word of mouth and people seeing his performances.

Some of the gigs Fitzgerald has been offered include screen work, mainly for music videos.

“I’m kind of hesitant about giving footage to people because what’s fun about it is that it’s transient, it’s fleeting, it’s gone,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s more of a performance.”

Paul Somers, owner of The Golden Pony and co-founder of the Super Gr8 Film Festival, helped Fitzgerald make his transition from stage to screen. Somers introduced Fitzgerald to Philadelphia-based band Creepoid.

While in Harrisonburg, Creepoid worked on its music video “Shaking” with Somers and Fitzgerald in conjunction with the Super Gr8 Film Festival.

Fitzgerald did projections for the music video, which has over 700 views on Vimeo.

“I love watching the improvisation of colorful liquids lighting a stage or a screen,” Somers said. “The psychedelic nature of their performance was a perfect pairing with the oil projections and the crowd loved it.”

Although Fitzgerald has enjoyed working his projections into video, his main focus is to continue to do live projections for bands.

“You never create the same thing twice,” Fitzgerald said. “That is why I love it.”

Contact Molly O’Toole at otoolema@dukes.jmu.edu.