An impressive 3D collision of traditional Inuit culture and techno-futurism which has racked up over 150K views since it first arrived online, Inouï (and free) from Alessandra Leone sees the Italian visual artist partner with motion designer Andreas Barden to create the sixth section of Brussels-based musician Zoë Mc Pherson’s ambitious audiovisual album String Figures. Enthralled by this captivating explosion of colour, light, textures, gestures and transformations, DN asked Leone to walk us through the production of this transfixing exploration of physicality.

Inouï (and free), is one of 7 videos that constitute Zoë Mc Pherson’s audiovisual album, String Figures.

Me and Zoë met at a female:pressure gathering in Berlin. She was looking for a director to collaborate on her new album’s videos and we clicked so well together, in terms of vision, workflow, commitment and passion to the project, it really became a four-handed collaboration.

The String Figures concept Zoë had been researching for a while at that point, has a very strong visual component that made it the perfect starting point for something that aimed to evolve into a bigger trans-media project. It was clear from the beginning that the whole audiovisual album – that we like to consider one single music short film as well as a series of music videos – was going to belong to the concept music video category. Despite this, I worked out a sort of abstract narrative that unfolds around recurring elements (strings, red color, hands – or their motion -, organic) by means of different styles and techniques according to each track’s intention, meaning and focus. String Figures features live action, animated 3D, macro cinematography, choreography and pure experimentation.

Pinterest inspiration board

Me and Zoë discussed a lot the use of animation within the audiovisual album by inspiring each other through many Pinterest boards. We browsed the work of many 3D artists before we found Andreas Barden. We absolutely loved his simple realistic style with a hint of elegant surrealism. Also, Andreas likes combining contrasting materials, such as shiny metal and soft porous floaty fabrics: this vocabulary of visual contrasts fit perfectly with String Figure’s recurring theme of dualism. When I say dualism I refer to the combination/interplay of opposites such as analog-digital, traditional-contemporary, history-future, organic-electronic: something constantly coming up for Zoë over the whole music album, that reflects onto the visuals as well.

The video renders on multiple viewing planes. The shifts between visual materials draw attention to different strata within the music.

We worked with Andreas remotely, sending over references and keywords connected to the track’s concept/visual brief and getting back relevant test renders. The whole thing was modelled and animated in C4D. It is interesting how the other 3D animated music video of the album – chapter ii. – Deep (prayer) – is so much different from Inouï, despite having a lot in common with it, concept-wise.

Inouï starts and ends with landscapes shots at dusk, illuminated by artificial red lights: when time expands, holds still and then is about to fade quickly, space gets distorted and transforms into something digital, the 3D world animated by Andreas. The music unfolds a world of colour and light, organic textures, gestures, transformations, energy, tactile explorations, digital atavism, and contacts.

Musically, Inouï is a perfect assembly of shifting polyrythms. One of my favourites among the 7 tracks. The video wanted to mirror the track’s dynamic of multilayered polyrhythms and the contrasting feelings of sync and disruption that comes from listening to it. We worked around 2 color palettes – one for each of the 2 big musical sections. Andreas created a series of loopy animated scenes, and the editing idea is to shift from one scene to another, the same way you focus on a specific rhythm or another while listening to the track.

Basically, the video renders on multiple viewing planes. The shifts between visual materials draw attention to different strata within the music. It is perpetual spins, endless repetitions, spinning drifts, all floating in unknown places. It may also wish to evoke a sort of dynamism of thought, reaching out to many liminal other-worlds at the same time.

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