A Mind-Bending Whale Quest from Director Jonathan Turner
After creating a shapeshifting digital vortex for Glasser’s Interiors album, New York artist Jonathan Turner conjures a wave of metallic orcas in his video for “Beluga” by the young Norwegian producer Pandreas. “Before I had heard the track I was thinking about Norway; ice-carved landscapes, mysterious island chains and Ingmar Bergman,” says Turner of the serendipitous inspiration. “I wondered about how that relates to electronic music and I thought about the electrically charged fractal landscapes of Hiroshi Sugimoto.” Fate or coincidence, the elegiac cut from the Bergen-based Pandreas was further brought to CGI life when Turner, a member of multimedia art collective Yemenwed and a professor at Parsons School of Design, stumbled across the Invanpah Solar Electric Generating Station in the Mojave desert. “It seemed this really alien juxtaposition,” says the director, who has previously collaborated on art and fashion films with the likes of Tauba Auerbach and Hood By Air. “It was entrancing and beautiful, but also a very radical transformation of the environment.”
The International Art Collective Enlists Benjamin Millepied for a Digitally Abstracted Performance
“I found that myself and Benjamin Millepied had a shared motivation for breaking conventions, being inventive with technologies and finding new ways to represent the human form,” says Universal Everything-founder Matt Pyke, introducing today’s audio-visual performance he created with the renowned French choreographer and founding director of the vanguard LA Dance Project. Entitled Presence, Pyke’s digital art studio’s latest collaboration explores the intersection of human movement and computer coding, creating a CGI graphic flourish. It’s a pulsating film with bursts of color—“alive with primal expressions of gestural drawing and choreography,” says Pyke. Universal Everything’s grand installations have appeared in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and La Gaite Lyrique in Paris. The work is often partnered with sound composed by Matt’s brother Simon Pyke, as in today’s film, which forms part of the immersive, architectural installation Universal Everything & You, the inaugural exhibition of the London Science Museum’s new Media Space. “We had the dancers think about the multiple sculptures their bodies create as they move, and how these represent the music, the same rhythmic pulse,” explains Pyke of the way Nathan Makolandra and Julia Eichten reacted to the tribal-influenced electronic score as they were motion-captured for the piece. “There is a delicate balance in finding movements which feel alive, not synthetic. This point of tension is where the magic happens.”
Universal Everything & You runs at the Science Museum's Media Space, London from September 21 through February 7.
Animator Galen Pehrson Takes the Folk Star on a Psychotropic Trip Into the Dark Heart of Hollywood
Avant-folk singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart builds upon his stellar collection of video collaborations with a subversive and moody new piece from rising animator and director Galen Pehrson. Conceived in the tradition of Mondo—the 1960s sub-genre associated with exploitation, death and taboo—Mondo Taurobolium uses the eponymous track “Taurobolium” from Banhart’s latest album Mala as a backdrop. The experimental narrative takes dark and existential turns into the murky underbelly of Hollywood fame and finds the duck-like character Mondo at its center, reeling in a state of disillusionment following a wave of torrential success. Mondo’s counterpart is Gale, voiced by cult favorite Rose McGowan as the beaked female lead who accompanies him through back alleys and night crawls of Los Angeles. “I think it’s easier to trust an animal without scrutinizing its actions,” says Pehrson, who has collaborated with Banhart on the cover of his album Cripple Crow and the video to “I Feel Just Like a Child,” and has recently shot a series of enviable commissions from MOCA, Death Grips, James Franco and Talib Kweli. “I think it’s something we learn while watching cartoons when we’re young. There’s often a moral undertone to them—here, it’s same idea just with more mature and complex topics.”
Hand-drawn 2D animation is something of a dying art. What inspires you to stay the course?
Galen Pehrson: I enjoy drawing and making little worlds. The passion comes from the feeling of seeing a character come to life, or clouds blowing over a landscape. It’s not a passion reserved for animation but for sharing, creating and collaborating.
Is the process quite drawn out and isolating?
GP: I spend months alone. This piece took four months. I counted something like 2,140 hours. The one day I took off, I ran my car over a boulder.
What animation directors have inspired you lately?
GP: I recently discovered Sally Cruikshank—a cab driver turned me on to her work and my mind was blown. I feel like we might be kindred spirits.
What themes do you find yourself exploring over and over again?
GP: I think the biggest theme is nighttime. I work through the night, and there’s a different feeling in the air: a kind of stillness and clarity that I’m grasping at and trying to relay.