The third edition of InScience opens neither with a scientist nor with a film-maker. Disappointed? Don’t be. The organisers managed to lure none other than techno legend Max Cooper, who just happens to also hold a PhD in Computational Biology and uses his music to uncover the mysteries of the universe.
Today, in Doornroosje, Max and the bass of his Emergence show are sure to shake some Thalia student complex inhabitants out of their beds. A day later, the producer will give a lecture in LUX. The Northern Ireland native embodies the dreams of party-goers and nerds alike: to give phenomenal performances all over the world and leave his own unique mark on science. Who is this strange and extremely rare bird?
In an attempt to figure it out, VOX tried to interview Cooper on Skype. Unfortunately, the good man turned out to be on a retreat, in preparation for his tour. No media for now, so no VOX either. But a bit of detective work revealed all there is to know about Cooper and his new show: Emergence.
For a start, one thing is for sure: Emergence is the highlight of Cooper’s career so far. In January of this year, it already blew Paradiso away. At the time, music website Thump managed a short interview, between Max’s show and the following five-hour long DJ set. ‘Emergence was supposed to be an experience that contains everything I love’, said Cooper. ‘Glitch, house, classic, ambient and techno – all supported by the visual story.’
A story that Cooper explains on his website: ‘It’s a timeline of the universe, from before the Big Bang to the future. Every chapter created by a different video artist, some of whom are mathematicians and scientists, with visualisations of real data.’ Science at a techno party may sound like an anti-climax, but a quick detour past YouTube shows that nothing could be less true. Never have such (quite literally) spacey images been shown at a concert.
And then there is Cooper’s LUX lecture, entitled ‘The Science behind Emergence’, in which he tells about his months’ long collaboration with visual artists and scientists. To see it for yourself, check out the clip of his Order from Chaos song, where you see how drops on the musician’s window slowly change to become a visualisation of life at cell level. How in the world did they manage that?
You may expect the lecture to include talk of the interfaces between techno and science – because let’s be honest: the two rather seem to be opposites, no? ‘As a scientist you are trying to answer a question and figuring out which techniques you need to do so’, Cooper told music journalist Atze de Vries in January. ‘This is also how I DJ. You don’t need musical training; you just have to figure out your own way.’
Wednesday 8 November, InScience Opening with Emergence, 9.00 p.m., doors open at 8.00 p.m.
Thursday 9 November, 9.00 p.m., lecture by Max Cooper.
Or stream his album Emergence on Spotify.