Multitalented musician Pharrell Williams and "superflat" fine artist Takashi Murakami have teamed up for another collaboration that is both visually and sonically awesome.
For Murakami's feature-length film Jellyfish Eyes (which The Creators Project talked to the artist about last year), the duo debuted a special remix video that sees the lighter side of Murakami's foray into filmmaking, with Pharrell getting transformed into an anime character. The song and video, a remix of the movie's theme song "Last Night, Good Night" by livetune, features characters from the film dancing alongside virtual vixen and pop sensation Hatsune Miku, plus Pharrell's already-famous Vivienne Westwood hat.
Says Pharrell, of "Last Night, Good Night (Re:Dialed) -Pharrell Williams Remix-": "As we have collaborated in the past, it was only natural for me to say yes when Takashi reached out. We met at his office in Tokyo and he presented the project to me. Within 15 minutes I knew what I had to do. I think it took a few more weeks for me to come up with the music." The result is an ethereal, pulsating groove, replete with the steady sounds of breathing beneath the synthetic songstress' synthesized croons.
"I just like the journeys Takashi takes people on whether it's in Jellyfish Eyes, his paintings or sculptures," Pharrell tells The Creators Project via email. "I'm not sure when I first saw his work but his collaboration with Louis Vuitton is when I really started to pay more attention. Takashi's use of colors and characters really speaks to me and allows me to get lost in the many layers of his paintings."
The video takes the viewer beyond Jellyfish Eyes, and into a realm of pure imagination. Explains Murakami, of the idea behind the video, "Somewhere in the eternity of outer space, Pharrell, Miku, and the composer of the song, livetune, are describing my film, Jellyfish Eyes, to a seemingly heartless robot audience. Somehow the film's message manages to reach the robots emotionally and cross the boundaries of time and space. Pharrell provided me input once with regard to the outfit his character wears but other than that, he gave me complete creative freedom. From the first character designs to the final product, the animation took four months to complete."
It's the humble "somehow" that has us guessing. At this point, Williams and Murakami are already the kind of old friends whose collaborations from Simple Things through "Last Night, Good Night" have become something of a science. "We're both professionals at our own craft, we both started with humble means, and we both seem to be kids living in grown up bodies," says Pharrell, "So I would say we have similarities. I don't think we differ on anything; we both aspire to take people somewhere else with our work."
Murakami echoes the sentiment: "When we first met, he was already a big name and yet he approached me in an incredibly humble and courteous manner, leaving me with great admiration for his humanity. Even now, after such an incredibly massive breakthrough year, his attitude hasn't changed a bit. I think of him not only as one of the greatest artists around but also as a role model to look up to."
The first time they met, the machinery was already revving into full-gear. "I think we first met in LA at his MOCA retrospective; we sat at the dinner together," Pharrell Williams tells the Creators Project. "What I love about Takashi is his willingness to listen to ideas. We met again in Tokyo soon after. I wanted to collaborate with an artist on my Simple Things project, so I made a presentation at his Kaikai Kiki office thinking, 'Why not aim for the sky?' I was waiting for him to send me on my way, but he started sketching ideas right away. When I left, Takashi had already gone way beyond what I was hoping could happen, and that was only on paper so you can imagine how I felt when I saw the finished piece."
Takashi Murakami took a moment to explain some of the deeper motives behind his new film:
The Pacific War ended when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From that day until present, Japan has continued to battle with a certain trauma in relation to the bomb and radiation. That battle manifested itself in manga master Osamu Tezuka's most famous work, Tetsuwan Atom (in the US, Astroboy), which reflects the word atomic in its title, and also films like Godzilla, who was warped by radiation into a monster. The Japanese have a fondness for these works which attempt to overcome our collective fears in a twisted fashion, and monster and robot works are among the most highly regarded of otaku subculture. With the disasters of March 2011, however, the calamity which struck Japan was even greater than the horror stories woven by subculture and the meltdown which resulted from the tsunami hitting the nuclear plant is even now opening fresh wounds in our culture. I created Jellyfish Eyes as a way of coming to terms with these new fears.
Involved in everything from "funding to direction, the screenplay, CG creation, planning for the musical score, and marketing," Murakami sees the film as an evolution from a strictly fine-arts practice, into new realms. "I wanted to learn everything I could about the grammar of cinematic culture. At the same time, I began work on Jellyfish Eyes 2 so in fact, I'm still studying cinematic grammar even now."
In the end, it's all about making the fantastic real, and in such a way that even Pharrell got to check something off his bucket list. When asked if he preferred being made into a character from a cartoon or an anime, Williams was conclusive. "Anime," he succinctly decides. "It's always been a dream of mine, so seeing the video come together for this remix was incredible." We have to agree.
Re-visit our documentary on Murakami in which he discusses Jellyfish Eyes below:
Image credits: © Crypton Future Media, INC. ©2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai KikiCo., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.__
JELLYFISH EYES is currently on a nationwide tour of major art institutions across the country. Remaining tour stops include The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in DC, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, and Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Murakami and Pharrell also collaborated on a film-inspired t-shirt that will be available at screenings and at the BBCICECREAM NYC Flagship and Webstore.
For more information on JELLYFISH EYES and to purchase screening tickets please visit http://www.jellyfisheyesthemovie.com