About the media

The unique combined media utilises a pioneering form of generative computer technologies to create large-scale moving image artworks. These SLOimage™ works extend the possibilities of film as a medium and art as an experience and sit in an evolving space between film, art, audio and technology.

With her production team, Fiennes brings to her art substantial experience of filmmaking and visual effects technology to create dynamic works which are able to perpetually self-generate in a continuous, non-predictable, ‘random’ cycle. This means that each viewing experience is enables a unique and spontaneous experience which is liberated from the need for any repetition or ‘looping’.

By utilising and combining cutting-edge coding technologies, Fiennes offers the artwork its own degree of autonomy. The SLOimage™ works are not edited together in the traditional linear film format, instead such decisions are given over to the engine. This means that the story-telling process is discharged from being fully dictated by the artist/director. The technology behind the work enables sequences and video/audio layers to be selected at random, in ‘real time’ from a substantial database of pre-rendered imagery.

Fiennes explains that these ‘hybrid’ works are neither “film” nor “video art”- but offer an experience which is closer to that of encountering a painting or still work of art. Since there is no fixed narrative or prescribed length, the viewer chooses how long they wish to spend with the work; “the point at which you encounter it and the time you choose to spend with it is the perfect time for you.” The result is both immersive and mesmeric.

Yugen is accompanied by a majestic, hypnotic music & sound score written and produced by composer Magnus Fiennes. Martha has collaborated with her brother Magnus with the first SLOimage™ work as well on both Martha’s previous movies. In a further expansion of the media’s generative dynamism, the Yugen engine self-selects and chooses audio tracks, depending on instructions. The creative interface between the siblings further broadens the impact and scope of the work.

The technological innovations used employed in the creation of the projects point to a new range of creative possibilities for filmmakers and artists working with the moving image.

About the work

In Yugen, Salma Hayek Pinault is Martha Fiennes’ muse and it is her character who dominates the screen. With music and sound produced by the award-winning composer Magnus Fiennes, the Yugen experience is akin to dreaming, hallucinations or out-of-body experience. We are led on an on-going, dreamlike and often surreal journey suggesting encounter with both the natural, material world - as well as with that of alternate dimensional realities. Through both technique and subject matter, Fiennes creates a dramatic and unusual evocation that may stimulate the depths of the subconscious mind.

Fiennes cites influences (amongst many) to include the late Leonora Carrington, artist, surrealist painter and novelist (1917-2011); Nicolas Roerich, painter, writer, archeologist, theosophist ; Computer Gaming environments ; Terence McKenna (1946 - 2000) ; ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author. Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) , filmmaker, writer, editor, film theorist; Dr David R Hawkins (1913-2002) ; M.D., Ph.D. psychiatrist, physician, clinician researcher and lecturer and Carl Gustav Jung, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, anthropologist, philosopher; Gaim TV; Tarot.

How is the work constructed?

Yugen was created using a combination of ‘pre-rendered’ filmed material, computer generated imagery(CGI) and bespoke coding technology operated - and driven by a Unity gaming engine which was especially adapted for the work. See https://www.amplifiedrobot.com

Subject Matter

The title Yugen refers to a concept in Japanese aesthetics which alludes to the principle of a profound awareness of a mysterious, partially perceived Universe.

In Yugen Fiennes stimulates a range of visual ideas that evoke the principle of alternate dimensions of influence upon our experience of reality. “I have always been drawn to the idea of extended levels of consciousness - the imagination, dreams, archetypes, Out of Body Experience, Near Death Experiences, psychoactive plant medicines or the vast reservoir of human creative expression that has preceded us”.

The subject of the artwork explores the idea of a distinction between an Earth world - the ‘gross material plane’ - with which we are all primarily identified - and alternative planes which express both potential and influence. In the work, Salma Hayek Pinault is immortalised to reflect an ever-changing archetype or emanation “a numinous, evolving priestess figure” who dominates a world of expanded realities, inhabiting dramatic fictional landscapes and dynamic, fractal / mathematical worlds embodied within extraordinary computer imagery. The viewer ‘travels’ between these varying environments at the behest of arbitrary decisions driven by coding instructions embedded as part of the groundbreaking media.

Through a range of playful, often surreal, visual allusions - whether to the idea of the Pistes Sophia of Gnosticism or to celebrated Mexican poet/shaman Maria Sabina, Fiennes encourages the viewer to frees the mind and contemplate a parallel existences, imagined or otherwise and its relationship to our own.

With its majestic pace and evocative visual language, amplified by the hypnotic power of Magnus Fiennes’ score, the viewer is truly invited to free the mind.

Philosophy of engagement with the work

With its own degree of narrative autonomy, the ‘machine’ takes us on a continuous and arbitrary journey. But can there be intelligence or coherence in what is selected to play? Fiennes is interested in theories which suggest that “All is spontaneously arising” (Ref Dr David R Hawkins 1913 - 2002; M.D., Ph.D. psychiatrist, physician, clinician researcher and lecturer) and which propose that we do not live in a universe that is ‘causal’ as we tend to assume — rather, it may be a-causal. In this way, she suggests that the machine may throw up meaning through its ‘spontaneous’ selections not unlike principles of reading tea or coffee granules, or bones, or wax or tarot cards; all such ‘arbitrary’ manifestations and their readings abound in all cultures

It is no coincidence either that she chooses to express this with the inclusion of a potent and influential female form: “If only as a contribution to redress the balance reflected in an accumulated, often subtle, cultural deficit of recognition of the feminine principle”.

Four principle stages in the creation of the work
Stage 1:

The filming of“live action” content such as people (ie human characters) in a film studio against green-screen. This enables these materials to be subsequently matted or ‘keyed’ off the green and positioned into different environments of choice.

Stage 2:

Creation of imagery that is to be computer generated and ‘matte painted’. This is the process of creating CG / photo-real environments and computer animated sequences and putting them together with the filmed material to create clips or sequences to appear potentially in the work. The work also includes a series of ‘matte’ painted landscapes.

Stage 3:

The creation composing and production of original music and sound to accompany the imagery. In Yugen, the audio is deployed to comprise a combination of ‘baked’ audio fusions with imagery as well as the potential for arbitrary choices (by the engine) for audio and image to be played together.

Stage 4:

The loading and instructing of all material - the ‘assets’ - into the gaming engine in the form of video and audio layers. With Yugen, the engine has been adapted specifically in support of the vision for the project. The idea is to give it both freedoms and instructions; sets of probabilities and possibilities to chose from - and then to sit back and enjoy the show.

Additionally, there are sequences that have been animated and lit to render ‘in real time’ by the engine itself, as opposed to being a pre-constructed asset.