Music

Graphic star Craig Wards turns his talents to extraordinary scientific music vid

Posted by Rob Alderson,

It was March 2008 when we first posted top typographer Craig Ward on these here shores and we’ve followed his skyrocketing career ever since. So when the man himself got in touch to let us know is first ever music video was about to drop we were as excited as a bag of frogs being smuggled out of France. But it was more than not being eaten (I fear I’ve killed this metaphor) it was the sheer ruddy wonder of seeing someone whose work we so admire taking on a completely new context.

And my goodness were we not disappointed. The completely bewitching video for Ryan Teague’s single Cascades features microscopic ice sculptures – a fraction of a millimetre across – filmed by tiny cameras in a specially constructed chamber and it’s not only a study in texture and movement, it’s also a glorious collision of human manipulation and organic growth.

Craig told us he sees it as “adding another string to his bow” building on the graphic vernacular he has developed over the years.

“When I first heard Cascades isolated from the rest of the album (Field Drawings), winter was very much in the air and the sharp, twinkling notes called to mind at once falling snow, but also a memory from my childhood of a broken jewellery box that belonged to my grandma. The partnerless ballerina in the centre of the box would rotate tremulously to a sparse and lonely clockwork soundtrack that echoed through the over-wound springs in the base.

“The video we created to accompany the track was shot over four days in a humidity controlled basement in Pennsylvania, USA and took almost three months of planning and research. The owner of said basement was Linden Gledhill, a biochemist cum macro photography enthusiast. I had been put in touch with him by kinetic still-life photographer, Jason Tozer – a previous co-conspirator (You Blow Me Away) whom I had asked to be DOP for the project.

“I’ve wanted to try working with motion for a long time now as I think a lot of my typographic work lends itself to the world of moving image. And really, I’m just taking the same ideas – that of letting the process inform the final product – and applying it to a different medium. Also, I couldn’t resist creating a little custom type treatment for the end frames, had to get some type in there somewhere!”

And with some heavy-duty scientific research involved the sheer ambition of the final results is pretty mind-blowing.

“The dancing, contorting trees you see at the beginning of the video are ice structures – most no more than a fraction of a millimetre across – which were grown on the tip of an electrically charged, motorised needle. The individual fronds follow the paths of electromagnetic field lines generated by the charge of 2000 Volts coursing into the needle.

“When the trees became heavy enough for gravity to take its toll, they would begin to grow downward, bending and twisting as they went, to eventually meet with fronds of frost that had grown upwards from a chilled metal base along the very same field lines.

“The phenomenon of ice crystal growth accelerated by the application of electromagnetic fields has been observed before in academia but never in such detail and never before in motion making this video of as much interest to researchers and physicists as any fans of Ryan’s music or film-making in general.”

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

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