UK-based artist Max Cooper merges electronic music, visual art and science through installations, live audio-visual and immersive sound experiences. Growing up, he pursued both of his passions – music and science, earning a PhD in computational biology. His background and education seems to now influence his creative process. Cooper shares that his projects start with an abstract idea / concept first which he explores further to make them tangible as well as relatable. His label “Mesh” is an embodiment of these passions and an outlet for music which is part of wider collaborations in the arts and sciences.
Following the successful multi-media “Emergence” album and tour, this year he released his third album “One Hundred Billion Sparks” with an all new and evolved 270 immersive audio-visual shows – a light field installation of countless shimmering points, hovering overhead the audience, creating 3-dimensional moving forms in sync with music. Experience the next one at Funkhaus in Berlin.
1. FLIGHT ESSENTIALS (A PERSONAL COLLECTION): This is my flight essentials pouch to cover the travel basics I need to maintain good vibes despite nasty turbulence, screaming babies, boredom, hang over, or any of the other common travel ailments.
Firstly there’s the noise cancelling headphones which allow me to work, particularly on low frequencies, despite the engine rumble, then there’s a few really handy headphone connectors – a splitter to share if I’m with a friend, a flight adaptor for those old style headphone sockets on flights which need two inputs, and most importantly, an attenuator: you know when you’re watching a movie and dosing off on a flight and suddenly there’s an announcement from the pilot waaay too loud in comparison to your film audio?….get the attenuator in there, turn up the film audio and turn down the level with the attenuator, so that any announcements are nice and quiet and you can maintain your zen.
Also in the pouch, backup movies and music on USB, spare earbuds cut in half for sleeping on, and painkillers plus diazepam for long-haul knock outs, waking up at the other end B.A. Baracus style.
2. SNACKS (RANDOM COLLECTION): Emergency stroopwafel and gummibärchen for the moments when I’m lost in the wilderness on tour and have no sustenance. These should give me a couple of days walking energy to escape most foreseeable disaster situations.
3. EARPLUGS (NO BRAND): Spare earplugs for noisy raves when I lose my proper moulded plugs. Earplugs are so easy to lose, drop them once in a dark club and they’re gone. So backups are very useful to save my already battered ear drums. Also I often end up giving them to my friends who come out unprepared for the audio barrage, when we’re lucky enough to get it in the places that aren’t so tight on their decibel monitoring.
4. BOOK (A BEAUTIFUL QUESTION, CHECK HERE): I have to admit I’ve been carrying this book around for some time, as you can see by the weathered cover. Over the past couple of years I’ve discovered that science audiobooks are perfect for travelling, allowing me to still learn something when I’m too tired to read on tour, and their narratives are forgiving to the odd doze off too. But this book is something special, and wasn’t available on audiobook format, so I’ve persevered. It’s about whether nature, fundamentally, embodies beauty.
Researchers often talk about using beauty and aesthetic judgements in guiding their paths towards discovering laws of nature. And that’s more or less the focus of my approach to music videos and live AV shows in the opposite direction, where I try to use nature and its embodiment in natural laws to provide something beautiful for us to look at.
So a great book to read, written by a Nobel prize winner no less. Other recent books of note would be Antonio Damasio’s “The Strange Order of Things”, and Peter Hoffman’s “Life’s Ratchet”.
5. ELECTRICAL TAPE (SCAPA, CHECK HERE): Boring yeah, but this can save me from all the music going off mid-set and everyone staring at me like I’m a massive moron who can’t figure out how to press play on a CDJ. Clubs generally have a lot of bass, and bass shakes things, and likes to shake cables out of their sockets. So I stick electrical tape on all the socket-cable connections. Generally only needed for USB connections, RCA/phono connections are fine.
6. MAGAZINE (NEW SCIENTIST, CHECK HERE): Great for the science news, properly explained and referenced. It doesn’t go into as much depth as I’d like, but many a good project idea has started with an article or book review in here which I’ve gone on to read about more deeply.