When Airbus wants to show off their new Aibus A380s, they don’t turn to the NBC promos we see on our domestic airlines. And why would they? This is France, after all, the birthplace of the New Wave.
Instead, they employed studios Universal Everything to generate unique in-flight media experiences. For the first piece, they converted their installation with Realise, The Transfiguration, to loop on the chair-backed in-flight media system. The description of The Transfiguration says simply: "an anthropomorphic giant endlessly evolves between primitive and advanced materials," what Universal Everything’s founder, Matt Pyke, describes to us as capturing, "the tension between abstract and human," or the anthropomorphization of sculpture and texture.
It’s one remarkable video—a character designer’s wet dream—as a biped morphs from a skin of steel spikes to a flowing gelatinous putty without a break in stride. (If the trick is a bit familiar, that’s because Universal Everything designed a similar mascot for Coldplay’s recent tour.)
"I think it lends itself well to the captive, meditative state of in-flight video with suggestions of travel, endless movement and transformation," Pyke writes. And it certainly has that hypnotic screensaver effect, an endless loop of incredible complexity that you simply can’t look away from.
Most surprisingly, however, the video begins with a man engulfed in flames. I asked Pyke whether he was surprised Air France approved the image—a burning figure seems a bit more reminiscent of fiery plane crashes than luxury cruising—but he shrugged off any such connection, merely calling it "a surprise to startle your senses!"—which, indeed it is.
The second piece called Extreme Believers is equally captivating, and demonstrates more of Universal Everything’s obsession with digitally augmenting the human figure. In this clip, bodies shed pigment into the air, as if a strong draft is carrying bits and pieces into the white abyss. It’s easier here to see the parallels of flight, the idea of someone being lifted into the heavens, becoming something larger than they are on their own, yet still unchanged.
It’s no Godard film, but it’ll do.