Q&A: Callum Cooper

Metronomy's new music video by Callum Cooper has an architectural concept, and comes with a health-warning.

The Metronomy music video by Callum Cooper, which was revealed to the world this week, has an architectural (and mind-bending) concept.

Don’t have a head for heights? Do have a tendency to succumb to motion sickness? Then this is your health warning about not watching the film below. But then you will miss out on a rather splendid video for Metronomy’s song ‘Month of Sundays’. The man behind the video is artist Callum Cooper, who likes to experiment with camera rigs to give a unique view of the world. Here, he explains the inspiration for the video and the key role that architecture has in his films.


What inspired you to create this visual landscape?
I’ll discuss purely the inspiration from an architectural perspective. Although it is a band’s promotional video, I was interested in exploring the ideologies of brutalist and internationalist styled architecture. In part my interest was sparked by a film, which some of your readers might be familiar with, Utopia London by Tom Cordell. As many of your readers would already know, or perhaps argue, this movement was heavily influenced by utopian soviet ideals of living. It is now hard to see this because the designs seem to hold an obliqueness and the idea of them has somehow been twisted to be associated more with Ayn Rand than utopian community ideas. Consequently, these concrete structures have a melancholic and monolithic feeling to them. A feeling that for various reasons I felt suited the song.

How did you select the locations that would be featured?
Well, pragmatism over desire. I would have loved to have travelled across Eastern Europe and Russia to capture the epic architectural sites, alas when working on such a tight schedules you have to just be pragmatic.

How important was the choice of buildings to the concept?
This music video is a revamping of an artwork that I created for the Map/making event, presented at the Barbican in 2012. This was a series of commissioned artworks that responded to the OMA exhibition that was being presented at the time – which really inspired me to look into architecture philosophies and concepts.

What is your process and approach to filming?
Although there are probably themes that run through my work, I really approach every project differently, depending upon the intended audience and where it will be presented. This is a music video so, therefore, despite (hopefully) having artistic merit, it exists as a promotional tool. It is also designed with the attention span of an online audience which means a less meditative or contemplative style than making something for the cinema or exhibition.

How did you capture the disorienting camera angles?
The unique perspectives are created using a utilitarian sculpture that I specifically designed and had fabricated. The sculpture has a camera mounted upon it and is hand operated like a bizarre Victorian-era farming tool.

One of your early films (Victoria, George, Edward & Thatcher) was also architecture-focused – any other plans for structural-related projects?
Essentially that is a portrait of London, although a structuralist film it still reveals so much that was hidden to me. Watching it the first time, once I had compiled the images, was similar to seeing a data visualisation of the city. The faces of class, wealth, history and the tensions between individualism and conformity in British society where revealed. It really surprised me that 3600 images of the city’s residences could reveal so much in 2 minutes (view the film here).

I am currently developing an extension of this that we are launching in October – it will however be a portrait of biodiversity and will be an interactive platform.

City of residence Melbourne/London
Education Royal College of Art (2008–2010)
Co-founder of Department 21
Website callumcooper.com
First artist that inspired you It sounds ludicrous, but as a toddler the first artwork I saw was a tiny concrete house – it stood alone in the middle of a deserted field in Central Australia. I found out last year, it was actually an Anthony Gormley sculpture gifted to a farmer in the early 1980s. 

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