Screencaps by the author
On Emergence, electronic musician Max Cooper took as inspiration the various ways in which order forms out of chaos when organisms coalesce to form larger entities. A series of music videos, with work by Kevin McGloughlin and Maxime Causeret, explore this theory through visuals tightly linked to the music. In Cooper’s latest animated music video, “Seed,” featuring vocals by Katherin deBoer, colorful deep-ocean organisms react to the song’s rhythms, textures, and vocals. Cooper says that these building blocks of artistic expression were paired with the early expressions of life.
Initial recordings of deBoer’s vocals were layered and powerful, but Cooper ultimately decided to strip her voice down to its barest. This, he felt, seemed to fit with the idea of the music being part of a larger narrative of early multicellular life, where organisms competed for nutrients in an aquatic environment for more than 500 million years before land life began. With this as the artistic seed, digital artist Vincent Houze took over with his CG animation.
“Vincent did an amazing job of making this early life, and the ebb and flow of the ocean, dance to the music,” says Cooper. “If you watch carefully, every movement and change in visual structure is linked to tonal changes and rhythms in the music. Of course, it’s not biologically accurate—it’s Vincent’s interpretation of the story, as it’s not supposed to be a science lecture.”
Houze’s visuals riff on Cooper musical details, including the partially randomized complexity in the percussion. As a result, the video reflects the song’s organic rhythms, spectral and glitchy effects, and tremolo chord sequence.
“As with all of the Emergence content, it’s primarily designed to point us towards the beauty of natural processes and systems, and their links to how we feel,” Cooper says. “The feeling conveyed also makes me think of the fragility of these systems, in light of the bleaching of many reefs in recent times, by rising sea temperatures.”