MAX COOPER announces new album 'Unspoken Words', released 25th March on Mesh, with second single "Exotic Contents" and its accompanying video, a masterpiece in digital art by Xander Steenbrugge.
Cooper has been exploring the difficulties of communicating with words as part of the Unspoken Words project. For "Exotic Contents", he teamed up with artist and machine learning specialist Xander Steenbrugge to create a direct representation of this, creating a system for converting words to visual stories.
"The idea was to take the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who tackled this question of the difficulties of using words to explain ourselves and our place in the world, and to have the AI system re-interpret these writings in visual form," says Cooper.
"It's interesting for me to see the incomprehensible philosophical language interpreted visually like this, full of symbolism and the boundaries between language, our selves, and the world, broken down into flowing abstraction. I haven't really taken it all in yet, I feel like there's more to discover in it than I can appreciate."
"The video was not "designed" by me in the same way that traditional visual artists would design a music video," explains Steenbrugge. "I wrote all the code that runs the AI pipeline, and I did a huge amount of exploration as to which settings and sentences (most of which are from Wittgenstein’s seminal Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) work best, but the final rendered frames come out of the machine.”
"So in essence, what you see probably has many different interpretations depending on who's watching. I really love how the AI model creates very abstract visual scenery which looks familiar, but is also completely impossible at the same time."
The track itself is a similar departure from Cooper's usual interpretation of ideas, with a half-time drum and bass format with more aggression and sharpness of sound design. "It’s a club track, but for me, an exotic form of club track," he says. "The title "Exotic Contents" came from Wittgenstein’s private language argument, and the difficulty of communicating an entirely internal, subjective object to others when we can never directly show the object to each other. He uses the analogy of a beetle in a box, and I refer to the idea instead as our exotic contents."
As an audio-visual artist, Cooper often goes to the medium of video to enhance his music and the ideas and stories which inspire and inform his work. "Exotic Contents" is one of 13 short films combined into Unspoken Words and the meta-narrative (released as a film on Blu-ray to accompany the album on 25th March).
"Pulse at The Centre of Being" - a more personal than technical track that is linked to previous Max Cooper pieces - also surfaces online today.