Digital Distortion Slices Up Olga Bell’s Newest Music Video [Premiere]

Olga Bell and Tokyo-based creative coder Baku Hashimoto bend beach worlds in the new music video for "ATA."

Sophia Callahan

Stills and screenshots courtesy of the artists

A cooing voice dances as monochromatic visuals fill the screen, shifting from scenic beach shots, to distortion, to total abstraction, and back again. This is the newest music video from Moscow-born, Alaska-raised, Brooklyn-based musician—and Bjork labelmate—Olga Bell.

"ATA," taken from Bell's upcoming album, TEMPO (out May 27 via One Little Indian), is the result of a holistic collaboration between Bell and Tokyo-based artist and programmer, Baku Hashimoto. Hashimoto carries the video into surreal, dark, and beautiful territories, adapting what he calls "a basic technique in 3DCG," 3D matte painting. Instead of using 3D scanning or photogrammetry, he modeled all the objects by hand, and used OpenFrameworks for the scenes where the texture appears to melt. Before the video made it into Hashimoto's hands, however, the original footage was shot by Josh Wool in Fort Tilden and Breezy Point in New York—Bell and Hashimoto's collaboration, in fact, fully took place online.

For step-by-step details on how Hashimoto created his VFX, he provides a detailed “making-of,” which you can check out here. For more insight into their collaboration and vision for "ATA," check out The Creators Project's interview with Olga Bell and Baku Hashimoto, below: 

The Creators Project: How did you guys meet and decide to work together on this project?

Baku Hashimoto (BH): This winter I gave a talk at FITC Tokyo. At the after-party, I spoke with Nicholas Felton, who was also a speaker at the conference, and who introduced me to Olga. When I listened to her tracks, I found them very inspiring, so I contacted her to propose doing a video together. I love that her sound comes from mixed roots in both classical and experimental scenes.

Olga Bell (OB): I saw Baku’s FITC talk and was blown away by his work, especially the Google Maps-generated stop-motion video he made for group_inou. I love work that’s both obsessively detailed and cohesive, and Baku’s projects have all that, plus lyricism and a bit of humor.

Have you worked together before?

BH: No, we haven't. But as a creative coder, I had seen the video she made with Zach Lieberman. Recently there have been a lot of kinda-realtime face-projection works, but I think theirs was the original one. So she knows our field, and it helped me to try experimental techniques.

OB: I hope this is the first of many projects we work on together.  

What was the original concept for the video? Did it change at all as the project progressed?

OB: Depending on the day or what someone might need from this song, it’s either about talking to yourself or communing with some higher power. The lyrics were inspired by Frank O’Hara’s poem “A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island,” which is related to Mayakovsky’s “An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage,” both poems in which the protagonist spends some time talking to the “sun.” I knew I wanted to shoot at least partially on a beach, and I wanted to use color sparingly. Baku sent over a beautiful treatment with many hand-drawn examples of the false-perspective world, including my favorite, the "bendy cup."

BH: An idea, an image, flashed into my mind immediately as I listened to the track. I always avoid a video being "explanatory" of the music, preferring to think of an idea from an atmosphere of its sound and simply how I feel from it, ignoring lyrics or context a little. Although Olga told me about the Frank O'Hara and Mayakovsky references, and I researched these poems, I decided to follow my first inspiration.

Did you guys do this collaboration online or in person?

OB: Entirely online!

BH: All online using mail or Skype. Since I'm not good at English and experimented with various techniques endlessly, I think I might have bothered her a lot but I'm studying English *so hard* right now and I think I'll be able to speak fluently within a year haha. I hope.

"ATA" is off Olga Bell’s forthcoming album TEMPO, out May 27 via One Little Indian. Stream the album here and click here to pre-order a copy. 

Keep up with Olga Bell on Tumblr and Baku Hashimoto on his website.


Bright Eyes: Projection Mapping On A Human Face

Virtual Organisms Writhe in Generative Music Video "Tehraj"

An Experimental Horror Film Marries Grotesquery and Feminist Poetry [Premiere]