A few days ago we put out this music video for The Curiously Strong Peppermints, its a piece I'm quite proud of and wanted to talk more about the various influences (and rip offs) that I've employed in the construction of the music video. Please read on and have a look at some artist's work that is far better than mine...
The first section is very much influenced by one of the shots in Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambert's 1959 experimental short 'Short and Suite' (though McLaren and Lambert's version would have been made in the much more pure way of making scratches directly into celluloid). When Jesse and I first discussed the new album the Peppermints were working on we'd both mentioned (in different capacities) a recent interest in jazz. I'd become somewhat enamoured by the visual aspects of jazz of late (as well as the music) and particularly the sort of freeform experimentalism exhibited in this short. It's also worth noting that the saxophone was added to the song after I started making the video so that was not a decisive factor in my jazz thinking at all.
This acts as something of an overture though as the real influence comes from the work of S. Neil Fujita:
His measured and beautiful approach to design is very distinctive and less 'rubbery' than my crudely drawn versions. What I think I like the most about Fujita's work is how well it gives an impression of something without being too abstract nor too literal. Take for instance this cover to a fifties edition of 'Fortune' magazine:
It's to accompany a story about jet airliners and it gets that idea across in the illustration, but the straight lines also call to mind blueprints or engineering documents. I used this idea in the 'Loom' video by doing broad representations of the lyrics in individualised shots.
I'm also a big fan of the colour palettes he developed for his works and am probably more jealous of him for this ability than anyone else (besides maybe Paul Klee). Here's a really good short documentary about Neil Fujita:
Rolling with the jazz theme, there's also moments of pure geometry and abstraction of geometric shapes. The chorus and bridge sections are all close up cuts of this below painting with hue and saturation modifications. It's a rather large painting and I was just trying to highlight simple forms with constant movement.
I didn't want to just rely on the jazz look though, the most immediately noticeable part of the song to me when I first listened was this large 'guitar freakout' section in the middle (at least that's what I called it in my notes). Knowing Jesse's fondness for psychedelia and 60s music I thought it would be a great idea to continue embodying the 'free-flowing' aesthetic but move it into a different decade by making a traditional liquid light show. Much like the ones that the Syd Barrett led Pink Floyd had playing behind them in the UFO days.
It also is somewhat reminiscent of the Dog Star Man series of films by Stan Brakhage in that 'pure film' sort of way. It's just a series of chaotic lights and shades:
I made the liquid light show parts with an old overhead projector I bought from a school sale, setting it up I placed mineral oil in a circular, concave piece of glass and swirled it around as I added different food dyes to alter the colour. In post I cut these shots together in time to the music, digitally tinting colours to sync with the song. I used some creative masking to make some of the transitions seamless and eventually fused the two sensibilities, 60s psychedelia and 50s geometry based abstraction (when you think of it the light show itself could appear something like a living form of abstract expressionism), together into a chaotic mix. Joining together some of the previously seen elements into new contexts.
My hope was that the video matched the tone of the song and complemented it without being too much of its own thing. I wanted it to cut together with the music and accompany it like another instrument rather than an addendum to the piece altogether. On the whole I feel like I did accomplish that and am happy for the opportunity to have done so.