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O Magazine

Siglo XIX

By David Domingo

Hidrogenesse were about to publish their new album, Roma, in a few months and asked me whether I would like to create a modest music video that didn’t take a long time to make. They sent me a few songs to see which one I would like to use and the first one that called my attention only for its title was Elizabeth Taylor. At the time I was obsessed by a programme called Anime Studio Pro with which you can create a skeleton over photographs and animate them, and I spent days on end cutting and cutting. So the first thing that came to mind was making an animated collage with the la story of Elizabeth Taylor. They [Hidrogenesse] told me that it wasn’t necessary to actually show Elizabeth and Larry Fortensky and all her other husbands, that I could film my cat Viva as if she was Elizabeth, going here and there and climbing onto a pile of clothes (this thing about the pile of clothes doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s how I remember it, in a kind of blur).

Carlos and Genís told me that they had rather thought about Siglo XIX for the music video, and I loved the song; but when I listened to it the first time around I already knew that it had the kind of structure that would made me go mad to film it. I’d been looking for photographs of Elizabeth with Larry Fortensky and hadn’t found any I liked. Larry is the husband of Elizabeth I remember the most, from when my grandmother read ¡Hola! magazine. It was a dead end, because I had Larry in my head. So, in the end, Siglo XIX seemed a good way to start again and forget about Larry Fortensky

Hidrogenesse. Siglo XIX – O Production Company

I was trying to get enough images to reproduce the same density that you can see in Zooms from Nowhere by Chris Timms. My idea was for all the video to be like this final part from the Siglo XIX music video, which is the one I’m most happy about: all the layers end up becoming a single one. Carlos and Genís didn’t want to appear too much on it. When I filmed them with my mobile in their house, I told them: “don’t worry, what I’m recording now it will appear very small and it will look OK”. So each time I showed them parts of the video they would be like “smaller, smaller!”.

Hidrogenesse. Siglo XIX – O Production Company

It’s not a spot the difference game… When the video was finally ready, something was bound to happen, and it could be nothing else than the fact that seeing it with such an HD quality made me hate it. Darío Peña said it looked very nice with an HD (he’s a true HD prophet) and Dani Slurp put it into his magical machine that unites all the layers into an amazing Standard Definition. In the end, what I did was using a light out of focus that pasted it all. But in the end I used the first and raw HD version. In its own way, the most beautiful of definitions: it lacks any sort of nostalgia.

My idea for the video was something like driving a tractor, filling up the spade with all sorts of things and then dropping them off onto the video. Someone from the 18th century would expect the 19th century to be wonderful, because things always get better, but who knows. So I mixed images from the 18th century but didn’t include any from the 19th, instead I used pictures of people having fun: clapping, dances and figures that you can’t even tell what they are, but they’re fun.

I wanted to film [Carlos and Genís] for them to appear on the video. I had just arrived in Barcelona and had only my mobile with me, so I went to their house and filmed them with my phone.

I had the footage of them two, and a lot of things that I kept on cutting and animating or downloading from the Internet. But then… what happened? How did we end up with the final result for this video?

I think that the best way of telling you this is explaining what happened to me when I first moved to Barcelona. After the first three months, I started stealing vacuum-packed Gouda cheese at the Condis supermarket. I had stopped eating cheese because I was on a diet, but it drives me completely nuts. I had set up a fundamental rule: I would never ever buy cheese again, only DIA diet cheese portions, because I don’t like them that much and they last me a week. So I’d go to the supermarket and instead of picking up a basket I would use my own shopping bag, filled it with products and then emptied it on the till. I kept on putting the tickets in my bag each day, and soon the bottom of it was full of them. One day I emptied the bag at the till and when I got home I realised that I had forgotten to take out one of the products, some leavening sachets, because they were hidden under the tickets. After I discovered this hiding place, I started using it to take cheese out of the shop. It was a way not to break the rule I had set up about never ever buying cheese. I wasn’t stealing for the sake of it, and it had nothing to do with money either. But it got to the point when I must had taken about a huge ball of Gouda, bit by bit, and they had to notice. I thought that what I should do, then, was paying for the cheese and stealing something of the same value, like Nescafé. But I couldn’t: paying for cheese meant buying cheese! Stealing it wasn’t buying it.

You must be wondering what does this have to do with the video at all. I’ve already said that my idea was doing it as if I was driving a tractor and dropping images to form a pile on the video. So there I was, cutting more and more images with Photoshop CC and animating them with Anime Pro Studio. Carlos and Genís told me they would help me cut things, but they were very busy with the launch of the album and I needed many more images. My dream was Zooms from Nowhere; and my rule: I cut my own images and I animate them myself. But it got to point that I calculated that the video won’t be finished for… another five years. So I got the spade and set up another rule: I would fill it up with GIFs stolen from the Internet. I found a little pixelated GIF of cousin Carlton dancing that I fell in love with, and so I place many Carltons dancing with Napoleon.

Days before the launch of the video, Héctor Bometón, whom I hadn’t met personally, wrote to me to tell me something that has nothing to do with all this. But when I checked his web site, surprise! He was the author of the Carlton GIF! I felt like I did when they caught me at the Condis with the bag full of Gouda cheese; like when, years before, I went to emergency room because my chest ached terribly and I told the doctor that I thought I had pancreatitis because I’d eaten a whole basket of cheese I’d gotten as a gift. But I loved that Carlton so much that I just had to use it! Héctor says it’s OK, these things happen. This is a collage.

Hidrogenesse. Siglo XIX – O Production Company
Hidrogenesse. Siglo XIX – O Production Company

I love the whole concept of filling: “we need to fill this with something”, like filling a hole with concrete. When we were choosing the song, I kept on thinking “it’s too long” and Genís said “well, its has these instrumental sections so you can put many things repeating themselves”. At that moment of the video, my goal was to pile up all the library of particles and replicators in Motion in just one frame. But I stopped half way because it was really tedious: the computer keeps on slowing down and you can’t reproduce what you do, so you can only guide yourself by moving the cursor over very ugly static stills. I get desperate before the horror I see and forget that, in the end, if you export all the piled up things in motion, it looks OK. It’s the perfect filling.