Max Cooper - Vertebrae / Forgotten Places feat. Kathrin deBoer
Max Cooper: There is part of my live visual show where I've been delving into drum and bass, and I needed something to rip through the fabric of space. This was the result. I tried to complement the screaming synths sections with lots of detailed improvisations and modulations of Kathrin's voice, to give some of my usual structure to what is otherwise a pretty straight up club track. The themes of hidden beauty in the urban landscape and reclamation by nature were tackled by the director and artist Conner Griffith. He created a technique for turning cities into layered Escher-esc scenes, with structures and human activity mapped to the elements of the music, and specifically designed for my 3D AV live shows which the music was also built for. Conner Griffith: The initial visual experiments for this project involved using a drone to take static videos of buildings, then shaping those images in After Effects to give them an isometric perspective. I knew from there I’d effectively be left with these puzzle pieces that could be linked together to build larger, more complex, fictional landscapes. I was also exploring reductive video processing techniques like thresholds and edge detection, and finding that the lack of visual information was allowing for some pretty interesting spatial layering. Through both the photographic process in the field, and post-processing at home, I was forced to contend with the cultural context of the mediums I was working with, namely drones and video. I became interested in this top-down, aerial gaze that is familiar to us not only through drones, but satellites, GPS systems, video-games, security cameras, etc. It was interesting not only to see how dehumanizing it can be to human figures, but also the effect it had on architecture and larger infrastructures. Buildings take on a 3D- model quality, and design features are accentuated and typologized, leaving them feeling hollow and uninhabited, but also somehow editable, as if their source code has been revealed. Max’s track 'Vertebrae' ended up being a perfect template to explore some of these Ideas. There is such great attention to detail throughout the track that, to me, it felt like there was world-building that had already been done sonically; my job was to develop a visual representation of the world that I felt the music painted. Kathrin deBoer's haunting vocal performance and scatting provides a quintessentially human component as well, one that is reflected in the pedestrians that inhabit these spaces. From our elevated perspective, we look down at a world that is tracked and quantified, viewing it through a system that has crushed the fidelity of reality to a digital pulp, while simultaneously building on that reality, compounding it with layers of additional data. Both of these directions of manipulation are drawn out to their extremes until we are left with a new kind of landscape, built out of the limitations and imagination of a computing system and its relationship to us and our planet.