Animator and GIF artist kyttenjanae tells us how she made the surreal universe in her latest music video.
If you like shiny disco aliens, 3D scanning, and surreal dance utopias, then D∆WN's new video for "Calypso" might be up your alley. The technocratic vision directed by digital artist kyttenjanae flips between reality and surreality as animations by Thom Rugo and herself dance to D∆WN's dreamy beats. The duo, working with cinematographer Rakeem C, 3D-scanned the pop star to create a digital avatar in the shiny, fluid vein of their GIF art, but accompanied by D∆WN's signature braids, nose ring, and regal air.
"The Queen, as I’ve been calling her, made herself known," kyttenjanae tells The Creators Project, referring to the androgynous, CGI figure that accompanies D∆WN. "She wasn’t part of the original concept at all, but it all came together very instinctually." Bouncing between D∆WN's interdimentional alter ego and her wild dance moves IRL, kyttenjanae, Rugo, and Rakeem C tackle power, obsession, and celebrity through the scanlines of a blinking camcorder and a digital throne room.
We spoke to kyttenjanae about The Queen, D∆WN's music, and the making of "Calypso":
The Creators Project: How did your collaboration with D∆WN come about?
kyttenjanae: D∆WN and I shared similar sentiments about the state of the music industry, the role of women in shaping the future, and the importance and cost of creativity. It has been a very natural and organic collaboration. It always felt right from the start.
How did you feel when you first listened to "Calypso"?
Typically, I can listen to a song and envision what I’d like to do with it. This was different. It was one of those rare moments of total, deafening chaos - my head was immediately filled with more images than I could process. "Calypso" is so unique and inspiring. Thom Rugo and I actually pulled over the car. We were literally rendered speechless.
Like Jesse Kanda and Arca's "Xen" (link decidely NSFW), is the shiny metallic alien that appears in your work a character? Does he (she? it?) have a name? How did she wind up in this music video?
The Queen, as I’ve been calling her, made herself known. She wasn’t part of the original concept at all, but it all came together very instinctually. We actually finished the video four times before she appeared. I kept circling back and revising, going off a gut feeling that something massive was missing from the piece. In many ways, it is very similar to Xen—she is a visual and spiritual manifestation of our collective vision for D∆WN’s sound. I think her role in all of this has only just begun, and there’s much more coming from the Queen soon.
What was the process like for transforming D∆WN into a shiny metallic queen?
On a technical level, we did a series of 3D scans and measurements of D∆WN during the live action part of the shoot which we then merged with some hand-modeled elements, and rigged for use in Cinema 4D. It might sound strange, but the process of creating her felt largely instinctual, like there was a guiding creative force that existed beyond me. I surrendered myself to the music and removed myself from the process. I let this character create herself.
What, in your mind, is the story or takeaway from the video?
"Calypso" takes a polyphasic approach to a handful of themes, especially power, obsession, and celebrity. The Calypso of mythology was a nymph who imprisoned Odysseus for his love. Here, we have a futuristic reality where D∆WN reigns supreme as a powerful queen and media obsession. In terms of a takeaway, I’d like to leave that open to interpretation, but there is definitely a positive statement to be made about the role of women like D∆WN in the future, and the importance of creativity and originality in the future of music.
What are you working on now?
D∆WN and I are only getting started; this is just an introduction. The Queen is coming back. There will be mind-melting narratives and new, futuristic experiences coming soon.
What's next for you as an artist?
I’ve been exploring for a long time how to better share the experiences I try to communicate with a lot of my GIF work. The next step is interactivity. I will soon be releasing my first game, though it’s hard to even call it that. I can’t say much about it now, but it will begin to touch upon the larger narrative of my GIF work, and allow users to fully submerse themselves in my brain-world. As always, it will be strange and sad and wonderful.
Can you make me into a shiny metallic queen?
yes if u can dream it u can do it n__n