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A video jockey (usually abbreviated to VJ, or sometimes veejay) is an announcer who introduces and plays videos on commercial music television such as VH1, Fuse TV, and Stereotypes.fm non-commercial TVU, Canada's MuchMusic, and Asia's Channel V. Other alternative names for a VJ include "VDJ" (Video DJ) and "MVJ" (Mobile VJ).
The founders of MTV got their idea for their VJ host personalities from studying Merrill Aldighieri. Aldighieri worked in the New York City nightclub Hurrah, which was the first to make a video installation as a prominent featured component of the club's design, with multiple monitors hanging over the bar and dance floor. When Aldighieri was invited to show her experimental film in the club, she asked if she could first develop a use for video to complement the DJ music so that when her film would be played, it would become part of a club ambiance and not be seen as a break in the evening. The experiment led to a full-time job there.
Several months later the future founders of MTV patronized the club, interviewing her and taking notes. She told them she was a VJ, the term she invented with a staff member to put on her first pay slip. Her video jockey memoirs have a complete list of all the live music she documented during her VJ breaks.
Her method of performing as a video jockey consisted of improvising live clips using a video camera, projected film loops, and switching between 2 U-matic video decks. The public was solicited to collaborate. Many video artists were showcased and contributed raw and finished works. Stock footage was also incorporated. Aldighieri next worked at Danceteria, where there was a video lounge and the dance floor was on a separate level.
Video jockeying then expanded to incorporate live television feeds, music concrete, and other experiments with multi-media crowd participation. There was more equipment at the new Danceteria to facilitate this collaboration, including live television feeds of broadcast T.V. The design of this new video installation, "the video lounge", was supervised by experimental video artists John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald who chose Aldighieri to direct the performance and programming.