Symmetry is one of the most fundamental principles of nature, and also forms the basis of music. So this music video is an important early chapter in the Emergence audio-visual project, which starts with visualisations of the basic building blocks of nature, setting the stage for the physical universe to come into being, and later planets, life, civilisation, and technology (the whole story and project is explained at: emergence.maxcooper.net).
Symmetry is the idea that one aspect of a system can change while another remains constant. The idea of natural laws themselves, rely on the forms of symmetry that mean the same forces will apply to you as they do to me, independently of our position in space or time. And scientists searches for natures symmetries lie at the heart of much of our best models of reality (see Noether’s Theorem or more recent uses of symmetries in things like the ‘amplituhedron’!).
The principle is also responsible for music, in that our enjoyment of tonality, melody, harmony and rhythm comes from our subconscious appreciation of different types of patterns (i.e. symmetries) in sound waves.
The idea of Symmetry was explored in the video by Kevin McGloughlin, using simple symmetrical forms (primarily the circle), and symmetrical operations applied to them – rotations, translations and reflections. The animation demonstrates the beauty of this simple concept when applied in an iterative journey towards ever increasing complexity, both visually and musically.
The audio track originally came from preparations for a live piano and electronics show with Tom Hodge. I had some chords and glitches we were playing with in combination with a simple piano motif. We decided to try some live Fender Rhodes with it during practice and it all came to life.
Luckily we recorded the whole session so I had a load of stock content to play with when it came to turning the project into the album intro. My reasoning was that the intro should be about symmetry because of it’s basic role in nature, and the development and form of the track, going so glitchy from a simple melodic motif starting point, should work with applications of ever more complex symmetrical manipulation – emergence from symmetry, just as Kevin delivered.
Amazingly, Kevin didn’t use automated sync points from the stems of the audio project – or to put it another way, Kevin painstakingly set up all of those edits by hand, hats off to him for his perseverance on that!
Thanks for having a read, watch and a listen! – max
When I first heard Symmetry I was blown away by its impact and it really struck a chord with me… On hearing the concept for the track, this feeling was empowered tenfold. After much discussion with Max, we arrived at a conclusive concept for the visual.
I represented conservation laws by the use of a simple circle repetition. This circle form took on many new characteristics and evolved in complexity throughout the course of it’s journey, though every new form is an evolution / adaptation of the initial circle. I used a variety of techniques in an attempt to convey the idea of this ever evolving complexity within symmetry.
Starting with minimal moire patterns, moving into 3d depth and finally ending up with massive distortions and adaptations using a technique I developed ‘Digi-Cut’, displaying various moments in time offset by tiny fractions. This was an effort to demonstrate pre-universe ideas and the introduction of organic matter in relation to symmetry.
It was an absolute honour to work on this project with Max, in particular on ‘Symmetry’, which is my personal favourite piece on Emergence.
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Cast: Kevin McGloughlin and Max Cooper