In 1982, the computer graphics team in Industrial Light and Magic that would go on to became Pixar created cinema’s first entirely computer-generated sequence for Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan.
It is nicely meta that the sequence which illustrates mankind’s newly acquired capabilities to create new (virtual) worlds consists of the creation of a new world through the Genesis Device (it is also nicely ironical that Khan wants to use this life-giving device as a weapon, which reminds us of the conflict between Mars terraformers and conservationists in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy. Remember kids, creating life is not always the way to go).
We watch the Genesis sequence in a loop replacing James Horner’s conventionally ‘epic’ soundtrack with ISZO’s Artifice.
Its simple gestalt is the transformation of death (stasis) into life (dancing). Drill down further and gasp in awe at the jagged, fractally spiralling landscape that stretches in front of your eyes. Dubby, rattling drums and swirling synth refrains represent the bootstrapping of complex structures from simple elements. The rolling bass stands in for the enigmatic energy driving this process forward.
The fact that we are using sonic Artifice to soundtrack visual artifice is a bonus.
The images and sounds above represent (organic) inception, they provide us with the ‘head’ of the process where geology becomes biology, and eventually history.
For the sake of balance, and as a bonus track, we wanted to also give you the tail of this process: The final phase where entropy engulfs all of our achievements and hopes. We aren’t talking, alas, about the heat-death of the universe (that’s a subject for another day), but something closer in space and time.
Something akin to the processes documented by this guy who left the Civilization II video game playing for 10 years to generate, in the words of the chaps at io9:
“an awesomely dystopic swampy nuclear-irradiated wasteland in which war has raged relentlessly for a staggering 1,700 years”
What better way to soundtrack that scenario, where mankind goes out, not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with an awful shriek asymptotic to an infinity we can’t wait to reach, than with the beautiful blast that initiated Cluster (mk. 1), providing the ravaged blueprint for a zillion noiseniks.