We first got the chance to ascend into Nosaj Thing‘s sonic dreamworld at our The Creators Project: New York 2011, where he performed alongside some fittingly fantastical installations like Zigelbaum + Coelho’s Six-Forty by Four-Eighty and Team Dis-Kinect‘s motion-mimicking puppet. Engaged in a subtle dance with his MPD32, Nosaj wove together a pounding, wistful set before projected visuals. As surreal as that live experience was, its visual component is nothing compared to what technology artist Daito Manabe has accomplished for Nosaj Thing’s “Eclipse/Blue.”
With support from The Creators Project, and collaborating with Perfume choreographer MIKIKO, Manabe created a dynamic virtual environment to serve as the backdrop for two dancers whose movements across the stage are amplified by the graphics behind them, making each action feel larger and more emotive.
You might know Manabe’s work from his incredible Electric Stimulus project, in which he controls sound using muscle movements, a technique he recently used in his video for Falty DL’s “Straight and Arrow.” For “Eclipse/Blue” this concept is applied to the dancers and the intricate visuals reacting to each of their movements.
We spoke to Manabe and Nosaj Thing to find out more about the science behind this visual experience.
When watching the video, it’s hard to tell if we’re seeing a live dance performance with a projection onto it or if the graphics and dance footage were combined in post. How did these components really come together?
It’s all a live dance performance. We used a Point Grey high-speed camera for tracking the dancer and then
beamed onto the dancer’s body.
Is there a story, if any, behind the choreography and visual aesthetic of this video, and how does it relate to Nosaj Thing’s track?
We were inspired by the structure of an eclipse of the sun. One dancer who dances in front of the screen is the sun, and the other who is behind the screen is the moon. Also the setup of “projector—dancer—screen” is inspired by the structure.
Did the creation of this video employ any of the techniques or ideology behind Electric Stimulus or your recent video for Falty DL?
We are inspired by Klaus Obermaier and Ars Electronica Futurelab’s project “Apparition.” The system is almost the same. The difference is one dancer dances behind the screen.
What made you choose this song as the single from your new record?
This was the song that set the tone for the album. Kazu [Makino of Blonde Redhead] was at the top of my list for this song. It’s amazing how it all came together.
It’s been over three years since Drift, which has had a massive effect on listeners and built their anticipation for the follow-up. What’s changed about your production in the past couple of years? Any sonic surprises that aren’t reflected in your recent remix work? Any new gear or techniques?
Everything that has happened over the years affected my production, from traveling, moving, and recent life changes. I gravitated towards different rhythms and sounds with this album, spent more time on my arrangements/mixes. It’s more of a personal record.
Any particular reason why you’ve waited this long to drop a follow-up?
I got caught up with touring. I also didn’t expect everything that happened with Drift so it took me a while to figure things out.
Please describe Innovative Leisure in any three words.
New Open Vision.