Superorganism’s Photo voltaic System video is a surreal romp by area

Marrying dolphins, animated cats, crude animation styles, and a ton of nods to that distinctive Net Art, early web style that’s so in vogue right now, the new music video for Domino Records artist Superorganism is a joyfully surreal little slice of strangeness.

The video was created by Berlin-based animator and director Aeva (real name Dan Jacobs), who connected with London band Superorganism through its management company, having worked with other artists on its roster including Hot Chip and LA Priest. Jacobs had initially just been brought in to work on the video for the band’s song Teenager, but “we found a good rhythm and I ended up working on the whole album campaign,” he explains.   

Solar System is the sixth and final video he created in the series for Superorganism, and it was made with just three weeks to turn it all around. “I’d been back to back on the rest of the campaign so the crunch was definitely the biggest challenge on this one,” says Jacobs.

“Luckily at this point in the campaign we’d established a really good workflow and core crew (Neirin Best, Nicholas Barnes, and Cynthia-ël Hasbani) so we were able to power through!” Another big challenge was, perhaps predictably, pandemic-related: Hot Dad (aka Erik Helwig) got Covid, so filming his parts had to be postponed. “In the end I think his feverish energy added to the outcome,” says Jacobs.

 The premise of the Solar System video was that a ‘dad’ character watches nature documentaries, “gets sucked into the TV world”, and becomes “overwhelmed with nature/space,” Jacobs says. “Throughout the album campaign the band were always great at bringing a really clear idea and brief to begin with which saved a lot of back and forth. For Solar System it was very simple and left a lot of room for play.”

Jacobs worked with Max Kreis on the AI processing to create a neural network, text-based prompt system (essentially like Dall-E), aiming to find a sweet spot between “trippy and coherent”. Elsewhere, the video was created using AfterEffects, Photoshop, Blender, Cinema4D, and Premiere.

And while it’s been pretty trendy for a while now, the early web aesthetic is particularly fitting here: according to Jacobs, it’s always been a big part of Superorganism’s aesthetic. But why do people dig it so much? “I think for me at least it’s ultimately a nostalgia thing, it harks back to a time where the internet felt simpler, more charming, and less evolved and predatory as it feels now,” says Jacobs.

“I’m sure being a kid also had a big part to play in that, but the internet started out very idealistically on this premise of freedom of information for everyone and it was all going to be great and exciting…. I think this art style just captures a sense of that naïve wonder and mystery that these unknown tech spaces could occupy.”

He adds: “I think that’s why the AI stuff now feels similar as it sometimes responds like a child I think we crave to see that in technology as it makes us feel safer. It’s also very easy to replicate some of these early CGI art styles that would’ve taken days to render in the early 2000s. That still feels very exciting to me from a storytelling perspective.”