From the new album 'One Hundred Billions Sparks', released 20 Sept.
Pre-order with tour tickets from Max Cooper's official store: MaxCooper.lnk.to/Hope
I’m excited to show you this new video project, the first preview of my new AV album coming out on the 20th of Sep this year. Every track on the album was created with a visual story in mind, and scored to that aesthetic and narrative. I then collaborated with different visual artists for each chapter. The album is called “one hundred billion sparks”, referring to the action of the hundred billion neurones which make us, us. And this single release is a chapter called “hope”.
Hope comes early in the story of one hundred billion sparks, when we’re looking at the molecular mechanisms which create our experience. I spent a long time chatting to the video creator, Thomas Vanz, about action potentials, and neuronal signal transmission, so that he could interpret the process using his visual systems. We linked the idea of hope, in a personal, human sense, to the journey every ion has to make across the neuronal membrane – an infinitesimal part of the most complex machine, with each particle striving for it’s destination, driven by the charge gradient across the membrane. It’s not biologically accurate of course, it’s an epic-scale dramatisation of a fundamental process that is making you aware of reading this right now. Once again, borrowing beautiful ideas from nature for my music video projects!
Musically, I attempted an honest rendering of hope. Our experience of the difficulties of real life, combined with our capacity to imagine something better. I tried to find a way to capture that feeling tonally. Music can be quite a blunt form of communication in some ways, but hopefully you can hear the message in there. That’s also why I kept the whole thing stripped back to only a few elements, and without much percussion or any detailing, in order to try and maintain the clarity of that simple message, which is so hard to put into words, but can be richly expressed with music.
One interesting thing to add is that this epic journey of the ion as part of neuronal action, is driven by electromagnetic forces, of which the force carrier is the virtual photon, or light. So it’s not just a name I chose to sound nice, we really are one hundred billion sparks.
ps special thanks to Thomas Nau for linking up this project collaboration, without which it never would have happened!
"Hope is a visual poem about the journey of a thought, with a scale transposition to the gigantic/cosmic, it tries to represent the brain's complexity and the birth of a feeling, as a charged particle travels through neuron and gives the power to create information and emotion.
It has been made using real shots of macroscopic chemical reactions, recorded with a 8k camera, with a 100mm macro lens, that turn the shooting into a microscopic observation and permitting to avoid CGI most of the time. Using this process allowed me to conceive the most complex figures possible, without getting rid of the natural beauty, and the extreme complexity of the neuronal system."# vimeo.com/273530304 Uploaded 5,625 Plays 136 Likes 6 Comments
Rare footage of real liquid crystals (no CGI!) by Ben Outram
Audio – “Music of the Tides” by Max Cooper, Out now on Balance 030 - smarturl.it/Balance030MaxCooper
Video edit by Jennifer Tividad
Video grading by Myles Bevan
What you see may look like computer generated imagery, but it’s actually real lab footage of liquid crystals under a microscope, warping in structure and bending light to create these beautiful scenes of nature in action. The footage was taken by researcher Ben Outram at Oxford and Leeds Universities, and has been edited by Jennifer Tividad into this music video, set to a new track of mine just released on my Balance 030 compilation.
No need for me to give further explanation, as we have it from the expert, Ben Outram!
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Early researchers in liquid crystals thought that liquid crystals might be some form of life. In fact, liquid crystals lie somewhere between chemistry and biology. They are phases of matter that are simultaneously fluid and structured. Their colours and iridescence have been the wonder of those who have researched them, and they continue to surprise us with their flowing forms.
The first liquid crystals were identified in biological materials, for example in the membranes of brain neurons. Life is a complicated organisation of liquid and solid components, but how does it self organise? Liquids are not organised enough, and crystals are too rigid. The answer lies in liquid crystal science. Every part of your body that has organisation has, or once had, liquid crystal properties. Liquid crystal membranes of cells are able to hold their shape, divide, heal, and transport in and out the molecules they need to survive, regulate, communicate and function. Unlike normal liquids, the structure of liquid crystals allows them to switch between different states, even encode information, while remaining adaptable, fluid, and sensitive to changes in their chemical and physical environment.
Liquid crystal displays have become ubiquitous, with more displays than people in the world, many times over, representing a multi-billion dollar industry. But their role in biology is still only thinly understood. When we look to the future of technology, we can aim at the very least to replicate the function and complexity of life, and to this, we will do well to unravel more of the mystery, from the mechanical properties of the webs of spiders to the colourful iridescence of beetles and butterflies. Spiders and silkworm contain pouches of liquid crystals from which they produce their silk. The resultant fibre, engineered at the molecular level, is stronger than steel. The spider can alter the chemical and physical properties of the silk to account for differences in temperature, humidity, or web function. A truly astonishing creature. Kevlar, a synthetic fibre that is used in knife-proof vests, owes its invention to the study of spider's silk, as it too starts in a liquid crystal phase. Scientists now are trying to genetically engineer goats to produce the spider silk proteins in their milk, in order to create new and stronger fibres. Further, the photonic properties of some types of liquid crystal produces the iridescence in some beetles and butterflies. Scientists have reverse engineered the optical properties of such systems for everything from producing iridescent liquids and colour-changing mood rings to heat-reflecting transparent insulation and electronic billboards.
In this video, we see some of the flowing forms and transitions that liquid crystals undergo as they flow and undergo transitions between phases.
This video is part of a larger work of photography that will be incorporated into a forthcoming book on liquid crystals. Photography will also be available as prints to order from my Etsy shop. To learn more, please follow my website at BenjaminOutram.com
Special thanks to Professor Helen Gleeson and her colleagues at the University of Leeds, and Professor's Steve Elston and Stephen Morris at the University of Oxford, without which the work would not have been possible.
- - -# vimeo.com/266652990 Uploaded 5,142 Plays 143 Likes 5 Comments
A time-stretching love story (of sorts) by Kevin McGloughlin & Max Cooper
Featured on the EP 'World Passing By' - listen on streaming services or download here: lnk.to/WorldPassingByEP
If you'd like to receive exclusive music, mixes, video and news you can sign up to the site at maxcooper.net/#join
"I always thought this music created the feeling of an enveloping weight grounding the body, something relaxing but dense and inescapable.
I started work on it many years ago as a chord progression which I used for the intro of a live set. So when I started this EP around interpretations of time, I dug out the old chord sequence as a starting point for 'Veil of Time', where I wanted to try and convey this inescapable and consuming nature of time, as well as its role in facilitating beauty through a simple process of change.
It's a simple piece of music, just some chords augmented with field recordings from Turkey, and some hints of a synth melody. It's supposed to be something to bring you out of all the complexities of the information barrage and back down to a basic experience.
Kevin McGloughlin has made another of his masterpieces with this idea too, something of an abstract time-stretching love story, which I'll leave him to explain!"
"The film for Max Coopers 'Veil of Time' is the story of two people travelling in time together.
I wanted to represent how limited our mortal timeline is, how precious and important the moments we share truly are, and convey an intertwined timespan relative to the world that surrounds us.
The 'love story' unveiled itself almost unknowingly while I aimed at these aspects of time. My initial endeavour for the film was to capture human movement and explore ways to interpret time by displacing the motion, however the 'narrative' became more substantial than the techniques and as a consequence, I focussed my efforts in that respect.
The film features performances from Eoin McGloughlin and Morgan Bonel and was shot in County Sligo, Ireland, using a Sony FS700.
As ever, I was totally honoured to work on this commission with Max and Co.
Life is Short.
Time shared is time spent well :) "# vimeo.com/248819251 Uploaded 17.3K Plays 324 Likes 12 Comments
I had a lot of high speed train journeys recently and I love watching the wires seemingly dance around outside the window. I wondered if we could be getting fooled by a similar process during our usual experience of time, and thought it would be an interesting project for a music video set to the music created during the same journeys.
The wires outside the window are static but they appear to move because of our motion past them. Perhaps our usual experience of movement could be explained by a similar process, where time is a physical dimension into which everything grows, with the present as the surface of this inflating structure. It ties in to a lot of physics ideas which are very common, and I thought it could make for an interesting music video, if I could find someone who might be able to pull it off!
Luckily for me, one of my favourite visual artists, Kevin McGloughlin had already been experimenting with linked techniques and ideas, and he's gone to town on it with a multitude of techniques and editing precision to create something pretty special. And yes, there's certainly a nod to the original time-stretch slitscan effects of Kubrick's 2001.
I wanted to show the transition from our normal experience of time to a stretched out past as a physical structure when viewed from an alternative perspective outside of the dimensions we're usually constrained to.
One other interesting thing about this model of time is that it helps with some mind-pickling metaphysical conundrums around the sense in which the past exists. In this model it literally exists out there behind us as a physical 4D structure. If we could travel outside of our growing surface somehow and went back to the past it wouldn't be much fun though, we'd just find solid lifeless stretched out versions of ourselves.
For the music I wanted to bring these ideas of frozen moments of the past into play, and no better excuse to get stuck in with the Prophet 6 on some lush classic analogue synth sounds for the main chord sequence, and plenty of nob noodling for a dance of modulating sounds around the main sequence. I wanted to keep it fairly sparse to let the chord patch be central, and just focus on trying to make every element, including the percussion, warp a little, so you can either listen to the track from a distance and hear the harmonic ideas, or delve in to find all sorts more hiding in there. Kevin did an amazing (and painstaking) job of warping the video to sync with the audio detailing.
If you'd like to receive exclusive music, mixes, video and news you can sign up to the site at maxcooper.net/#join
Max Cooper and I discussed ideas about space-time before embarking on the Resynthesis project.
We were on the same page for the most part, though, working with Max is always insightful and he enlightened me with some really fascinating ideas about space - time.
I was delighted to once again collaborate, especially with reference to 'time', which is such a relatable and unavoidable part of everyone and everything.
The track is really beautiful, I saw the visuals in the music quite clearly from the offset.
I could hear the 'time stretching' in the melodies and synths and I was greatly inspired by it.
My aspiration in this piece was to create a journey for the viewer, a passage through space and time, in an effort to represent time as a dimensional structure.
I aimed to convey existence as a solid component of time, an effort to glimpse the idea that our past still exists out there in a stretched, distorted dwelling..
I wanted to capture a human / mortal essence of time, displaying brief impressions of human interactions and activity, traveling in time.
All the fundamental assets were captured employing photography and realtime footage.
I stretched time in both 3d and 2d space using a wide variety of time displacement techniques, ranging from 'in camera' work to quite laborious post production work.
Fun Fact..Some of the clips contain exactly one googol videos playing simultaneously.
(using a method I devised some time ago, ie.the second last very short clip)
Most of footage/photography was shot in Dublin Ireland, with additional shots from Co. Sligo.
Working with Max always makes for an interesting time.
kevinmcgloughlin.com/# vimeo.com/241546182 Uploaded 188K Plays 3,136 Likes 62 Comments
From the Chromos EP - released 26 May 2017 [MESH]
Stream/Buy 'Chromos' MaxCooper.lnk.to/Chromos
Subscribe to YouTube: MaxCooper.lnk.to/Subscribe
Follow on Spotify: MaxCooper.lnk.to/FollowOnSpotify
Video by Andy Lomas
"This project began with a chat to a scientist at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, Mikhail Spivakov. His work is related to my old area of research, and he had the idea that maybe I could use some of their data to create a piece of music. So I travelled up to Cambridge to meet him and the rest of his lab group, and their collaborators, to talk about what they are doing there, and think about how it could translate to a music/visual project. We decided to focus on their research on chromosomal conformation capture, which experimentally detects points of contact between chromosomes (long strings of DNA), and then employs computational models of folding, to predict how the chromosomes are packaged up in a complex tangled bundle of strings. This process of simulated folding to create our best guess of real chromosome structure is a beautiful process, so this beauty became the focus of the project.
Luckily for us, Andy Lomas was interested in getting involved, and being the genius he is, he built an interface from scratch for mapping the raw data into the Unreal gaming engine, which could be used for creating video sequences, as well as a VR experience. Once we had the ideas and video aesthetic is was just a matter of me figuring out how to make the music fit. The raw data wouldn't map well explicitly to music, given music is of a very particular form, and raw data not suited to this form just yields indiscernible noise. So I set about two techniques for musical representation of the video and ideas, one based on live instrumentation, the other based on generative computational approaches.
Chromos is the first of these two pieces, using live instrumentation, and accompanied with the simplest visual form of the project showing a single chromosomal aggregation process. We wanted to show the data is this unadulterated form, so you can see the real science in action, and the real chromosome structure, along with glowing red appearing to show where genes are most highly activated. It's a glimpse into the complexity and form of one of the most important molecular structures in all of life. So musically I wanted to try and capture some of this grandeur, along with the complex messiness involved, which still yields a coherent, functional outcome (the living being it codes for and creates!). To try and achieve this I turned to one of my favourite instruments, the sansula, and I played lots of tempo-free melodies, which I layered, to mimic the complexity, and then used to define the underlying chord sequence as the coherent centre and function. I decided to keep it free of percussion and other elements, to focus on the beauty and peace of the visual process. I just added a classic wash of real Roland RE201 spring reverb and some work on the widening and pyscho-acoustic space with some simulated binaural effects.
The second piece in this project is 'Coils of Living Synthesis'"
- Max Cooper# vimeo.com/217857104 Uploaded 2,374 Plays 45 Likes 1 Comment
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