The new music video from Berlin-based duo Amnesia Scanner dropped recently and, boy, does it deliver. For the past few years, Amnesia Scanner has been producing some of the most exquisite sonic ruminations on our descent into digital assimilation. The track in question, “Chingy”, is no different as a digital voice bleeds over trance synths, drowning among the kicks and snare. It’s an abrasive, disorientating, and totally potent attack on our senses.
The accompanying video, created by digital artist Sam Rolfes, reinforces and furthers the aesthetic considerations of Amnesia Scanner, pushing it almost to the point of gravitational collapse. Rolfes twists a 3D environment to the contours of the music, shot through first-person videogame tropes. There are points where it resembles the most overloaded moments of 2016’s Devil Daggers, but the whole thing plays out like a disfigured, hellish version of EDM festival clusterfuck Tomorrowland.
I had to check whether this was edited footage of an existing videogame but it turns out Rolfes created it “99% from scratch.” Rolfes constructed the video by building a “long corridor of increasingly abstracted and reactive venue elements inside the Unreal Engine.” He then “built an audience and dozens of writing sculptural pieces, and then scripted lights and refractions and the stage movement and numerous other things to change based on user input.”
Rolfes told me that the piece was recorded in real time, to the music, using two players; an intricately choreographed performance. Player one controlled the “camera via [virtual reality headset] Oculus Rift” whilst directing “leg movement control and triggering certain animations by keyboard.” Player two took “control of the lights, stage movement, and refractions via a PlayStation 4 controller.” It’s an unholy alliance of player input, and the results gloriously reflect the Frankensteinian method of control.
The video is part of an internal process Rolfes has been undergoing of late; an attempt to reconcile his love of videogames with his digital art. Rolfes described to me his need to play videogames in the most cinematic way, “to frame the scene as artistically and dramatically as possible.” That compulsion is fully realized in the “Chingy” video, which takes him from playing within the videogame confines of others to creating, and working within virtual confines of his own making.
Rolfes admitted to binging on this year’s SUPERHOT having wrapped up production on the video, a game whose carefully constructed artifice and balletic choreography mirrors that found in the process and final video. But his “Chingy” video is not only an ode to, and a warning against, the monstrosity of contemporary performance, it’s also a heartfelt tribute to the disembodied club experience.