Advanced Beauty: weekly podcasts

Advanced Beauty is the name of a collaborative project curated by design studio Universal Everything and musician Freeform in which programmers, artists, musicians, animators and architects are invited to collaborate on digital artworks influenced by sound…

Advanced Beauty trailer still

Advanced Beauty is the name of a collaborative project curated by design studio Universal Everything and musician Freeform in which programmers, artists, musicians, animators and architects are invited to collaborate on digital artworks influenced by sound.

The first batch of artworks produced by Advanced Beauty are described by Universal Everything’s Matt Pyke as “a series of audio-reactive ‘video sound sculptures’. The 18 films,” he continues, “embrace unusual video making processes, the visual programming language, Processing, high-end audio analysis and fluid dynamic simulations alongside intuitive responses in traditional cell animation.”

Here’s a trailer promoting the project:

[QUICKTIME /images/uploads/2008/07/ 550 264 false true]

We spoke to Matt Pyke last week about the project…

Creative Review: How long has the Advanced Beauty project been in gestation?
Matt Pyke: Me and my brother, Simon – a sound designer who works under the moniker Freeform, first spoke about the idea of creating an audio-reactive series of films about two and a half years ago. I’d moved on from designing record sleeves, and he’d moved on from releasing traditional albums – we wanted to create a new form of audiovisual work.

I’ve always been attracted to the antithesis of loud MTV generative television; how quiet and minimal can something be, whilst still engaging the audience. The dot of a spacecraft gliding across the lunar landscape in the film 2001, Daft Punk’s Electroma, Conway’s Game of Life…

CR: So what’s the process for the AB filmmakers? Is each person working with the same piece of code or working with programmers (or the same programmer) to realise a specific creative idea?
MP: We started by defining the parameters in which they worked within.

* each film exists within a pure white space, starting and ending with a pure white screen

* the idea is that the film-makers create ‘sound sculptures’ which are affected by and react to the music in each piece

We invited a mix of programmers, architects and cell animators to the project – people who create moving image and motion graphics with unique processes, often designing bespoke software to create their films.

Still from Universal Everything's film
Still from Universal Everything’s film

CR: While you’ve curated the project artistically, the vital musical input is by Freeform. Can you tell us a bit about the musical / soundtrack process?
MP: Some artists had an approach in mind from the start, giving Simon a mood in which to create a soundtrack that they could build upon, and create reactions to. For some the visual sculpture came first, with Simon synchronising audio to the visual form. Then a second round of sound design across all films added finer details, coherence and surround sound, to place them all in the same virtual pure white environment.

Still from Panda Panther's film
Still from Pandapanther‘s film

CR: The DVD of the project is set to come out later in the year – what are your hopes and plans for the project?
MP: This first series of 18 films is the start on our ongoing exploration and collaboration into audio-visual art/design works, we are working on various gallery commissions for London, Amsterdam, New York and Stockholm – all expanding on the core idea of sound sculptures, some using mobile interaction, some using rapid prototyping.

Still from Karsten Schmidt's film
Still from Karsten Schmidt’s piece

CR: Will you show the films anywhere like the ICA or at film or art festivals / events?
MP: Yes, we are organising premiere screenings worldwide right now, and once the DVD is released, it will be shown at selected festivals.

And we’ve just been commissioned to create the next Winter light installation in the John Madejeski Garden, as part of the V&A’s Contemporary Programme.

The 18 films that make up the first series of Advanced Beauty work are now being released, one a week on the website and as podcasts. The first two films have already been released (one last week and the second one yesterday) so there are still 16 films to come

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