Over the last 10 years, UK electronic artist Actress has forged a uniquely kaleidoscopic sound. As the Ninja Tune stalwart revealed in a recent interview, visual arts and geometry influence his stylistic excursions just as much as sonic texture and genre, so it should come as little surprise that Cunningham enlisted video artist Nic Hamilton, known for dabbling in music and “environments,” to direct the new video for “Bird Matrix.” The track, Actress's original contribution to his May 5th mix for DJ-Kicks, marks Hamilton and Cunningham's sixth music video collaboration to date.
For "Bird Matrix," Hamilton takes a literal approach: the video features multicolored birds snuggling inside a blue cage, relaxed enough that at times, it almost feels like a still life. "Two love birds turn themselves inside out from within their azure cage slipping in and out of time attempting to synchronise with the manipulated bird songs hidden by Actress within Bird Matrix," Hamilton tells The Creators Project of the video's concept.
The first few frames are deceptive: it looks as though it might not go anywhere, until Hamilton makes the frames basically melt, allowing the visuals to flow parallel to the music in an organic way. As with past videos, the languid scene warps, dissolves, glitches, blurs and otherwise moves in molten ways. But unlike Hamilton's videos for Actress's “IWAAD” and “Voodoo Posse Chronic Illusion,” “Bird Matrix” is hyper-colored and psychedelic.
"The video was an experiment in manipulating video footage to make work in a responsive, sketch-like and texturally rich way that didn't involve excessive rendering or 3D," Hamilton adds. "I made it iteratively by starting with basic footage and adding expressions, then rendering off sequences at each stage until it became a giant unnavigable web of nodes all interlinked and feeding back into itself. I stopped when I ran out of RAM and deleted the project file in a fit of computer rage."
Perhaps even more than Hamilton's other works, this one fits snugly within the dayglo internet aesthetic a la mode. The birds, as the song title suggests, dissolve into a moving matrix of globular shapes, all shot through with vibrant color, while flowing around and reacting to the song's rhythms. In a way, “Bird Matrix” exists more in the realm of Jeremy Blake's moving paintings than the pure music video realm, but it also contains the DNA of net art, surrealism and video synthesis. One second it looks like corrupted code, and the next an oil painting, before mutating into something like a chemical reaction.
Watch "Bird Matrix" in full, below: