Behind the scenes of Sander Houtkruijer’s topsy turvy video for Clark

1 June 2017

Warp artist Clark has released a visual version of Peak Magnetic a “stand-out album track and live favourite” from his album Death Peak.

Directed by Sander Houtkruijer who has previously contributed visuals for Floating Points and Matias Aguayo, the video is a topsy turvy, mind wobbling, interpretation of the song, building momentum with the track seamlessly. We spoke to Sander to get behind the scenes on how he managed to create a video of extensive motion.

What was your initial concept for Peak Magnetic?

The concept had an experimental set-up, it was several ideas freely coming together. We shot a trailer for the live show which showcased characters developed by choreographer Melanie Lane. I expanded upon these characters in this video, working together on the choreography with one of the dancers, Kiani Del Valle.

I wanted to create a distinct world that these two characters inhabit, but at the same time showing that this world is their own creation. The world has no traceable origin, but is more like a 3D test rendering, a kind of map, a template or diorama. Stripped down to the bare elements of gravity, velocity and minimal materiality, it’s both a stage and a microcosm. It’s exploring movement and acceleration, making the world flat and then letting it rotate again, transcending its dimensions.

Also in accordance with Clark’s music, I wanted to throw together different seemingly opposing elements, like synthetic vs organic and live action vs animation, and see how they can contrast with each other and at some points sync together, to create a new whole in which all these tensions dissolve. Combined, these elements have a sculptural nature, forming a world that is constantly shifting and accelerating.

How did you work with Clark on the concept?

After going back and forth about a couple of ideas I remembered Chris had described the song in his brief as a boulder coming down a mountain, and I connected this with an idea I had lying around inspired by a gif I saw a couple of years ago. He really liked the idea of a constant rotating element because it was close to his vision of the boulder. Something that starts, repeats and keeps on looping.

How was the video created?

The largest part of the video is live action, only a view shots are full CGI created by my friend and artist Andreas Nicolas Fischer. We shot the video with the use of a motion control system enabling the camera to move in a similar way to the way it does in 3D software. We built a stage and put a layer of sand on it, so it’s like a cut-out of a desert, or a moonscape. The camera makes a half circle movement from one end of the stage to the other, when these shots are added together in post production they create a full circle.

One of the reasons to work with latex and sand was that both materials have interesting textures to simulate in 3D. The motion controlled camera, when combined with these materials creates a tension between the live action and CGI.

How was the choreography of the dancers considered?

As I mentioned briefly before, long time collaborator Kiana del Valle developed the choreography, expanding on Melanie Lane’s work for Clark’s live show.

For the main part of the video they remain still so it became about posing and the imagined movements between the poses. This was another reason to use sand, to create tracing gestures. For me, it was very important to have this sculptural approach, the video becomes an object in itself: stage, dancers, materials and the looping process combine to create a singular form, a moving sculpture.

How was the overall shoot on the day?

Since it was such an experimental approach it was great to actually look through the monitor and see that it worked! It was really interesting to work with the motion control system, it’s like expanded animation. But the best part of the shoot was working with a small but very strong team and some of them I worked with for the first time, like Nadine Goepfert, and some I’ve been collaborating with for years already, Imri Kahn. It was also great to put the five tons of sand back in the bags the day after, amazing.


Sander Houtkruijer: Peak Magnetic


Sander Houtkruijer: Peak Magnetic

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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