by Kaitlin Moerman
VANCOUVER – Video killed the radio star. Then the Internet burst in and scattered everything into a constellation of visuals, words and sound. Scrolling to consume has replaced pausing to appreciate. Technology is rapidly changing how we build and consume art, but that’s not all bad. It creates a challenge that enables artistic collaboration in weird and wonderful ways. Enter visual artist Meghan Fenske and the band Beach Body.
Fenske and Beach Body’s lead singer, Rory Copithorn, attended high school together in Saskatchewan. After high school, Fenske came to Calgary and attended ACAD. Her background in drawing and painting expanded into graphic design, animation and motion design. She joined various social media platforms to share her experimental animations of hands and heads that morphed into abstract representations of shape, colour and motion. Copithorn followed her work online, feeling a connection between her visuals and his music.
Copithorn’s band released the track “Curb Ciggiez” on their sophomore EP of the same name. The EP is a soundtrack to a psychedelic summer. It evokes nostalgia for the lo-fi neo-psychedelia bands of the ’90s, while paying homage to ’60s surf-rock. Plainly, they produce dreamy tunes. Copithorn said the title track was a written study of memory, and a discussion of mundane recollections that transform and gain meaning with time and experience. He felt like Fenske’s representation of reshaping the everyday would work well with his music. He reached out to her to make an animation for the “Curb Ciggiez” single. Fenske was excited about the project from the onset. She wanted to try her hand at a longer animation and felt inspired by the track that Beach Body had produced. She emphasized that there needs to be space for inspiration and creative enjoyment in any collaborative project.
Her initial concept envisioned objects moving through the frame, colourful and dream-like, with the band’s heads floating about the chaos. She illustrated roughly 500 frames per head before realizing the visuals were convoluting the track. She took a step back to listen to the music and fully “open [herself] up to the song.” The track’s meaning is complex, but is composed in a way that relays something beautifully simplistic. Fenske created a video that complimented, rather than complicated, the music.
She pared it down to a grayscale animation of the band-members’ heads floating through space. It’s complicated only by the way that the wind blows through their hair. The minimalistic visuals echo the ease and steady progression of the track’s sound. The resulting animation of 3000 illustrated frames looks effortless, complimenting the song’s calm sounding complexities. It stays true to Fenske’s visual concept and Copithorn’s composition, evoking something dreamlike and meaningful.
Both the band and Fenske have reinforced the importance of good vibes in any collaboration. Not only were they excited to work together on an artistic level, but their reconnection is befitting of the value of things remembered in “Curb Ciggiez.” With so many visuals and voices online, it’s hard to be seen and heard. Fenske and Beach Body have created meaningful content that creates pause in a world of never-ending scrolling.
For more of Meghan’s work, check out https://www.meghanfenske.com. You can also stream Beach Body’s EP via https://beachbodyband.bandcamp.com.