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Edouard Salier's Dystopian Vision

The video for Massive Attack's Atlas Air depicts a terrifying futuristic urban nightmare

Edouard Salier's CGI video for Massive Attack’s 'Atlas Air' is a graphic depiction of a bleak Kubrick-esque futuristic cityscape. It is a prequel to his similarly industrial-looking video for Splitting The Atom. The video features in this year's onedotzero Adventures In Motion Festival, which opens at the BFI Southbank this week. Ahead of the opening of the festival, Dazed speaks to Sailier about visual interpreting Massive Attack’s vision, but likes to leave the interpretation of his work open.

Dazed Digital: What kind of a brief were you given by Massive Attack for the Atlas Air video?
Edouard Salier:
I met Robert del Naja in LA and we spoke about what we like and about doing another film together. It was all open really but the song is about rendition so it was important to represent that but in an abstract way.

DD: What guides you most, the brief set out by the artist or the feeling you get from the song itself?
Edouard Salier:
The song is the guide, and the lyrics of course, and the feel of the music.

DD: The video for Atlas Air is presented as a prequel to your previous video for Splitting The Atom. In what way does the narrative follow from one to the other?
Edouard Salier:
I wanted to leave the interpretation of the films quite broad, it's more interesting to leave the viewer to decide what they think the visuals are representing.

DD: Both videos are set in a heightened, industrial looking setting – how would you describe this reality? Is it set in the future or a parallel, but current universe?
Edouard Salier:
It can be anything you think it is, what you take it to be, it's more important that you think about it.  But it's not a place I'd like to visit…

DD: The spaces in the videos are also quite unusual with a lack of human characters – something that applies to a lot of your work, not just the Massive Attack stuff. What is it about these stark industrial landscapes that fascinates you?
Edouard Salier:
It's not an intentional style, not something I set out to do.  I approach my work in a more instinctive way, almost like a painter that begins a painting without fully visualising the end result.  The imagery is inspired by my subconscious, my dreams and nightmares.  Are they un-human or un-real?  I don't know...

DD: There is certainly something of the Kubrick about your work. Are you a fan? What kind of an outlook on the world do you suppose you share with Kubrick given that you both have visions stark industrial futures?
Edouard Salier:
I take that as a compliment, Kubrick is the master and I certainly owe him a lot.  I don't know if my outlook on the world is comparable to his but I share his idea of cinema.  He said, ''a film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.”
Onedotzero's 'wavelength 10' music video screening programme serves up radical new takes in music video – a genre that continues to act as a playground for breaking new directors and musicians to make their mark. It will showcase recent classics by critically acclaimed directors alongside witty lo-fi promos from up-and-coming talent, including Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin’s unique crowd-sourced music video project honoring the legacy of Johnny Cash.

Wavelength 10 screens on Thursday, Friday and Sunday as part of onedotzero (10 - 14 November, BFI Southbank).