Tom Kuntz’s Bug Installation

Director Tom Kuntz is currently showing a film installation starring a group of exceptionally musical bugs at the Sydney Opera House…

Director Tom Kuntz is currently showing a film installation starring a group of exceptionally musical bugs at the Sydney Opera House…

Kuntz, who is well-known for his music video and ad work for the likes of MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, Cadbury’s and Old Spice, created the installation as part of the recent Vivid Live festival at the Opera House. He worked with LA music duo Lucky Dragons, who provided the audio component for the piece. Each insect generates its own unique sounds, using instruments ranging from the bongos to a Moog, and the bugs’ performances are looped at varying intervals, creating a constant, always changing soundtrack.

“I had been thinking of this idea for an installation,” says Kuntz of the project. “It originally came about when designing the creature for my MGMT video last summer (shown here). My mind started to wander into bug design. I started sketching unearthly bugs for fun. I liked the idea of them being large, over-scale, menacing, confrontational … the way a bunch of paintings confront you when you stand in a portrait gallery. When Steve Pav from Modular Records called and asked if I would contribute to the Vivid live festival in Sydney, this seemed like the perfect fit for it because of the musical component of the piece.”

In designing the installation, Kuntz began with the personalities of the bugs. “I had to write up my idea for the Opera House,” he says. “I did some preliminary bug sketches for this treatment which I assumed would be left at that. But then I ended up becoming very attached to the personalities of these early sketches and ended up using a lot of these first designs as the final bugs in the installation. I was quite concerned because I was working in very low resolution on these sketches and feared the quality of the bugs would never hold up. But with some clever tinkering at The Mill, they were good to go!”

“I contacted Lucky Dragons about doing the music and they were very kind and gave me access to their archives,” he continues. “I then went through them with my sound editor, William Flynn, and he broke the sounds down into suitable bits and put them all into the same time signature. We laid out performances for each bug, then I would equip each bug with the right instrument, and then The Mill animated each bug to the music.”

Shown here are three of the bugs from the installation. The full installation will remain on show at the Sydney Opera House until June 12, and Kuntz also hopes to tour it elsewhere in the future.

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