Electronic musician and artist Max Cooper has for several years been moonlighting as a multimedia artist of sorts. He’s used 4D sound to create an alternate reality, and recently helped create a starry sky in an underground concert space. For his forthcoming album Emergence, Cooper collaborated with experimental video artist Kevin McGloughlin for an audiovisual project that explores, as the title suggests, emergency theory, where smaller entities join forces to create larger ones, like complex bird swarms.
Cooper and McGloughlin collaborate on the music video for the single, “Waves.” With a minimal black, yellow, and white color palette, McGloughlin creates a series of complex wave patterns. And like the theory of emergence, the constituent graphics coalesce into larger wholes, which move in mesmerizing patterns and at various depths within the video’s frames.
“I chose the concept of waves for part of the Emergence story, because they are a very important idea in much of our understanding of the world around us, and within us,” Cooper explains. “They form the basis of light and wireless communications, and our source of energy from the sun which creates almost all plant and animal life.”
Cooper conceptually connects this to the “waves of charge flow” in our brains that produce human awareness. And the video’s concept also obviously intersects with musical waveforms, with their primary aspects amplitude, wavelength and frequency.
“The early chapters of the story focus on the fundamentals of natural laws themselves, the basic principles of nature which needed to be in place before the physical universe could come into being,” Cooper explains. “Luckily for me, working on an AV project, these basic building blocks of nature tended to yield beautiful results visually—symmetries, the distribution of the primes, dimensionality and hyper-dimensional forms, and here, waves.”
For Cooper, the visual approach was rather simple, so he opted for what he calls a “classic synth approach.” The visuals, as he describes them, have a strong retro aesthetic to match the sound.
“Tom Hodge added some Fender Rhodes noodling for extra retro feel, and Kevin McGloughlin nailed the visual approach with a great technique for presenting waves as the product of strong moving lines in a simple colour scheme,” Cooper says. “Some of the video work reminds me of 60s or 70s modernist imagery, which fit right in musically.”
For the visuals, McGloughlin tells The Creators Project that he had been toying with ideas of emerging patterns in minimal configurations when Cooper contacted him to work on the project. Initially, Cooper pitched these ideas for another track on Emergence, but quickly realized that these ideas would best be put to use on the track “Waves.” “My approach was to remain minimal and fluid with inspiration from the great Norman McLaren,” says McGloughlin. “I used only one element of animation for the entire clip (the initial line, in three colors). I gradually used multiples of this element and offset the times. Every form in the video was built from this initial line animation in a flat 2D space.”
McGloughlin decided to limit the piece to three bold colors in in this 2D environment to convey the idea that, even with limited space and materials, the forms can still create a wide variety of patterns and complexities.
“[They take] on the appearance of 3D depth,” says McGloughlin. “I felt these attributes demonstrated aesthetically and conceptually the core ideas within ‘Waves.'"