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Meet Director Chris Milk And Check Out His Latest Installation The Treachery Of Sanctuary

Chris Milk divulges the details of his latest interactive installation, a monolithic tryptic of epic proportions.

Director Chris Milk has been reinventing the music video format over the past few years, crafting beautiful, tear-jerking interactive experiences that prove technology can be emotionally stirring, too. He teamed up with fellow Creator Aaron Koblin to create the Google Maps-powered filmic experience for Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown and a crowd-sourced animated music video for Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave” in The Johnny Cash Project. Last year, we teamed Milk up with Arcade Fire again to produce Summer into Dust, the unforgettable ball drop moment at their Coachella 2011 performance.


Photo by Jason Henry.

This year, we tapped Milk’s talents again to create The Treachery of Sanctuary, a giant tryptich that debuted at The Creators Project: San Francisco 2012 and will be traveling the world to all of our 2012 events. This new piece takes viewers through three stages of flight, a visual metaphor for the process of creative conception, through the use of Kinect controllers and infrared sensors.

Milk describes each panel as follows:

In the first panel, where your body disintegrates into the birds, that represents the initial moment of conception. It’s the moment of inspiration, it’s the lightning in the bottle, it’s the purest moment of the idea that there is. So this, essentially represents birth.

The second panel is representative of the critical response, either by your own self doubt, outside critical forces, or just the impossibilities presented through the process of production. This is what it feels like to have your purest expression picked apart by a thousand angry beaks. In other words, this panel is death.

The third panel, where you sprout the giant wings, represents that feeling when somehow you and the idea are able to transcend that death in the panel before. The idea transforms through the process of abstraction into something that’s larger ultimately than its original. So this panel, essentially, is transfiguration.

Photo by Jason Henry.

Watch the behind-the-scenes documentary above to hear more about the project from Milk, Creative Director Ben Tricklebank and other collaborators, as well as event attendees like Zola Jesus. We also asked the project’s Technical Director, James George, and creative software developers, Aaron Meyers and Brian Chasalow, to reveal a bit of the technical wizardry that went into making the installation possible.

If you happen to be passing through Paris later on this month, you can catch the installation in person at the CENTQUATRE from June 20-24 as part of our Creators Project: Paris 2012 event. We’ll be bringing the work to São Paulo, Seoul, Beijing, and New York later this year, so stay tuned for more info!