A Minimalist Short Film about the Beauty in Simplicity

Closer is the short film created by digital art and design collective Universal Everything, in which we see that the sublime can be sustained on the slightest of gestures, and the stillest of scenes. It is a piece of video art that dives into the viewer’s subconscious and stimulates theories, images, stories and vivid, powerful emotions through the beautiful combination between visuals and music.

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Following the movements of two pixel-high ‘life-forms’ over the pointedly static landscapes of the Peak District National Park has never been a more sensitive and delicate experience, if it has ever been an experience at all. Pulling together two the independently familiar but conjunctively challenging spheres of the digital and the stoically natural, the narrative develops according to the viewer’s subjective choice, and the dance of the two lights is universal: a dance of loss, discovery, joy, sadness, and suspense.

Directed by Founder and Creative Director Matt Pyke, the music, taken from the album Slow Glow by Simon Pyke, adds dramatic effect to the silent story, which reaches its culminant point when the two abstract life-forms enter the darkness of a tunnel and continue their celestial dance. The whole film emanates an alien feeling, redolent of a sensationalism-stripped ‘X-Files’ in which the beautiful complexity of UFOs is celebrated in a heavenly choreography.

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A multi-sensory experience, “Closer” expresses subtlety, but also has the force and tumult of a complex operatic performance. Minimalist, yet mighty, this short film creates an overwhelming effect that intrigues and hypnotises. We spoke to Matt to find out more interesting behind-the-scene details.

The Plus: Could you tell us a bit about how you got into video art?
Matt Pyke:
We started exploring the powerful video production tools used by Hollywood to create spectacular special effects – and transformed them into tools to create abstract films on an immense scale and with great complexity. This led to an invitation to create the opening show of digital art museum La Gaite Lyrique in Paris – Super Computer Romantics.

TP: If film allows you to show more (a richer representation in terms of its audio-visual dynamism), what attracts you to minimalist filmmaking?
MP:
In contrast to our maximalist video works, we explore the opposite extreme. Minimalist video is about using the smallest pixel to tell the biggest story. It suggests that you can create powerful emotions with the most delicate touch.

TP: You have dedicated the film to the memory of Shaun Bloodworth, could you tell us a little more about him?
MP:
He was known as the photographer who documented the growth of the Dubstep music scene from the UK to worldwide.

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TP: What ideas led you to creating this video?
MP:
When walking in the Peak District National Park near the studio, you see vast empty landscapes. Occasionally you see a tiny hint of movement – a runner on the horizon, a car moving in the distance. This subtle evidence of life brings the landscape to life, and puts our human frailty into context.

TP: There seems to be a deliberate lack of overt interaction between the moving pixels and the environment onto which they’re placed; what overall effect were you looking to create?
MP:
The moving shapes are focussed on their purpose – the pursuit of each other, not distracted by their environment.

TP: This video combines still photography with movement; could you comment on why you brought the two together?
MP:
It challenged the possibility of bringing a still image to life with the smallest movement. It transforms the photograph into a stage for the story to unfold.

TP: What new artistic opportunities do you think digital mediums are offering today?
MP:
New forms of moving image, beyond typical video loops : extremely slow films, films which evolve every day providing new intrigue, films which are personalised to each viewer.

TP: Why the Peak District?
MP:
it is close to our studio, in Sheffield, UK.

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