Iconoclast director Yoann Lemoine (AKA the experimental pop-folk musician Woodkid) takes us on a beautifully surreal journey for emerging indie artist Black Atlass. Set to the track “Jewels” from the Young Bloods EP off of Fool’s Gold Records, the highly visual film features Polish supermodel Anja Rubik and Black Atlass singer/songwriter/producer Alex Fleming in a mysterious futuristic world.
From the opening sequence of darkling lights reflecting off the surfaces of strange and fantastical shapes, Yoann’s sunless imagery evokes a disturbing yet seductive world of form and movement. The CGI-infused visuals are hypnotic, as liquefied metal and gilded cages cover Rubik and Fleming’s hauntingly expressionless faces. The flowing movements of the metallic textures reflect the inky smooth rhythms of the music, playing the perfect accompaniment to the track’s lush R&B-tinged vocals and experimental alternative-meets-electronic sound.
The technical challenge was to create a video that looked photorealistic, but that would not come from a real camera. Yoann explains, “For this piece, I worked in a completely different way than I'm used to. I went back to my first love of being a director and CGI artist, and worked in post production on my own for 8 months to digitally create every single shot of the video with a very limited budget.”
“I used a DIY 3D scan system that rebuilds models from multiple still images, and what we call camera mapping, and played with this material on my computer. All of the camera, light, and texture movements were animated at home and on the road, as I was touring, far long after the 3D shoot of the real actors in February.”
As for how the digital elements played into the film’s narrative, Yoann remarks, “I thought the coldness and strangeness of the images was an interesting take on the concept of beauty and computer-generated images. I was born with computers but I’ve always thought it was strange to use them to fake or replace reality. The whole quest for 3D, 4D, pixel resolution, frame rate, and progress in the CGI world only seems to be driven by a fascination for reality emulation, and not that much by artistry and fantasy. The reality pictured in this video only exists in the computer I used to create the piece. It's fascinating and alienating too.”
“I loved the idea of humans golden like objects, like pieces of furniture. I treated them with the same precious care that we treat Jewels. I wanted to question the limits of incarnation, of organic versus digital, creating a piece that was equally beautiful and intense. Something equally organic and digital.”
Black Atlass had previously captured the attention of Yoann, with the Montreal crooner opening for Woodkid’s European tour back in February. As for enlisting Rubik, Yoann says, “I really want to thank Anja Rubik for saying yes instantly when I presented her the treatment. I thought the vision of her and Alex [of Black Atlass] was the perfect, beautiful and cold combination for the video.”
Yoann Lemoine is known for effortlessly moving between creative endeavors, whether creating his own music as Woodkid, or directing vivid and often reality-bending visual narratives for fellow artists such as Drake and Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, and Katy Perry under the Iconoclast banner.
The “Jewels” video made its exclusive premiere on Fader November 4th.