This year’s visual identity for IBM Think is an audio-visual collaboration – gestural, expressive, and driven by a deep sound analysis.
For this project with IBM and Grammy-winning music artist Imogen Heap, FIELD developed a new kind of sound visualisation: free from the paradigm of the timeline, dance-like and graphical – with the ambition of making the viewer hear, feel, and see the music.
Rendered for a new original composition and numerous variations – applied to as key visuals across all media for Think, IBM’s flagship conference with 40,000 attendees, this year held as the first fully digital event of its scale.
The artwork is rendered by a truly generative visual system, where an ensemble of graphical elements respond to groups of instruments: Melody, Vocals, Machines, Drum+Bass, Space+Details. Reacting with their shape, colour, surface detail and movement; with every wave, twitch, plop or bend.
With access to an incredibly high fidelity of data, all layers, individual stems, instruments and vocals in the music, we started from a set of custom-built sound analysis tools, applied to individual stems, to extract patterns and understand the make-up of the music composition.
In an extensive exploration phase, we tried out dozens of ideas for a non-traditional and expressive kind of sound metaphor: from highly structured visualisations with a technical feel, to free-floating and ephemeral forms.
“The deeply layered nature of the music called for a multi-dimensional visual counterpart: favouring simultaneous perception over distinct ‘sound events’ – allowing your senses to blend; as if in synaesthesia.”
The close collaboration with Imogen gave us the opportunity to develop our conceptual approach in parallel and in conversation. To Imogen’s core idea of interlocking rhythmical patterns, shifting in and out of phase to create a melody, we responded with a 4-part evolution in the animation. Imogen’s style of performing with gestures inspired the “drawing-in-space”-like compositions; her expressive and soulful personality the texture and colour of the artwork.