8k Camera Brings Alive Epic Dramatisation of the Process of Human Thought

Hope is the first single released from electronic music artist Max Cooper’s upcoming album One Hundred Billion Sparks, and it is also the video collaboration between Max and French director Thomas Vanz. The video is a micro-level story comprised of images of chemical reactions filmed with an 8k camera.

For London-based producer, Max, science is a recurring theme, and few know he in fact began his career in science before his music took over. Meanwhile in France, Thomas has been creating projects which focus on both the very big and the very small. Sparks flew when they first met.


Following individual ions as they traverse the neuronal membrane, Hope dramatises the journey of a thought as it gives power to knowledge and emotion. The poem takes as its focus the very small scale of chemical reaction, but its concept deals with something which, when able to grow in the right conditions, can be taken to macro proportions: hope.


We had a chat with the creators of Hope.

THE PLUS: What was the concept behind this video? How did the idea emerge? 
Max Cooper:
One Hundred Billion Sparks tells a story of the hundred billion sparking neurons inside each of our heads, from basic molecular mechanisms, to the foundations of logic and computation, to higher level constructs of thought, identity and feelings. Every piece of music is a score to a visual chapter of this story. I wrote the music and concepts first, then sent them to various visual artists to collaborate on each chapter. They then made their own interpretations and adjustments to my ideas, and we from there to see what develops.
Thomas Vanz: Max’s music is really cinematographic, when I heard “Hope” for the first time, I felt like it had to be dramatic, huge and intense. Also, because it’s a very progressive music, the idea of a journey, with travelling, trails that are left behind and something we approach during most of the clip came naturally.


TP: How do you two know each other?
I was introduced to Thomas’ work by a mutual friend of another of his collaborators. My friend Thomas Nau got in touch and send me one of Thomas Vanz’s videos and asked if I’d seen his work already. I was immediately blown away by the quality, and I assumed I wouldn’t have a chance to work with him, but I tried my luck, and it all came together really nicely.
TV: Max didn’t know that his “Emergence” project had been one of my strongest inspirations for a long time, especially his “Order from Chaos” video, so when our mutual friend told me that Max would contact me, I was already on board!
TP: The video is a dramatisation of the chemical process of thought – what inspired you to entitle it “Hope“?
For every track on the album I tried to capture some part of this system of one hundred billion sparks, in this case, the feeling of Hope, which is so important to us as humans, but also indicative of the power of our brain’s capacity to create model worlds. With hope, we imagine things which do not exist, and try to bring them into reality via our actions. It’s a feat of complex and abstract processing by this bundle of sparking cells which I thought was worthy of including.

TP: Tell us about how you created the music, Max. How did you score the piece?
I spent a month on my own in the Welsh valleys, and turned off my phone and emails, and really tried to delve inside, into my mind, given that’s what the project was supposed to be about. I took a form of “method-acting” approach applied to music. This piece was created with the Dave Smith Prophet 6 and Industrialelectric RM-1N, WMD Geiger Counter, Fairfield Meet Maude, Moog Sub 37 and a little Animoog too. Lots of layers of chords, hiss and distortion, but without pushing it too hard, I didn’t want it becoming aggressive. It’s a simple piece really, sparse on the chord changes, again in order to create that feeling that something is coming, but it waits to happen, in order to create anticipation, to create hope.
TP: You’ve said you always try to link your music to a visual story in mind. How important is it these days for music to be associated with visuals?
I don’t know how important it is in general, I don’t do it for business reasons, I just love visual art and cinema as much as I love music and science, so I try to link all my passions together whenever I can.

TP: Thomas, your work often engages with either micro or macro scales. What attracts you to the really big and the really small?
I give a lot of importance to the concept of fractal in my work, I feel like everything is linked to everything in Nature, no matter the scale, an atom can linked to a stellar system in many ways for example, the shape of trees to a lightning strike etc… I feel like creating the link between those elements in my work, allows the viewer to feel more concerned about science, nature and cosmos as they are part of them and the opposite as well.
TP: How did you build the visuals for the Hope?
I did a lot of research, trying out lot of chemical reactions, in order to represent the complexity of a brain system. Then I shot them in a really high resolution, so I was able to zoom in and make the movement I needed for the idea of journey. Then, to link every shot, with each other, I needed to display something that travels through the screen, in each shot, so you don’t lose the narrative, and the ions/comet came naturally and fitted perfectly with the storyline that Max wanted.