In March of 2023, video artist and cinematographer Liam Somerville, more prominently known as CAPITAL WASTE, directed a music video for electronic pop duo Plastiq, and their debut song ‘killer’.
Liam says the song ‘killer’ is all about the “destruction that corporations and capitalism cause on the planet” and so the music video is a representation of this political message, shown in CAPITAL WASTE’s idiosyncratically unfinished style.
To represent this idea, Liam wanted to create a Plastiq domination in a simulated and ruptured universe, highlighting the mess capitalism is wreaking upon the physical world, and the obvious effects of climate change.
“We were kind of thinking, let’s make everything in the video hyper artificial, while still begging and borrowing things from physical reality as well as virtual reality,” Liam says.
“Both Plastiq and I are really into nature and biodiversity, and you know Indigenous cultures… things that I feel are really important and are getting destroyed or crushed through capitalism.
“With the trajectory [society is] taking, it just means that it will extinguish all sorts of biodiversity or nature in the planet.”
Supported by Light ADL’s Artist Fund, Liam is showcasing a digital exhibition which is an extension of his “really unreal” universe created for the ‘killer’ music video. The work is on show at The Light Room Gallery.
Titled UNIVERSAL KILLER, the exhibition features a 13-minute uncut expansion of the music video onto an S-shaped, horizontal screen, extending his vision further into a dark, neon aesthetic.
“It was really cool to have the opportunity to make this big, long, kind of more textural and slower paced short film that accompanies [the music video],” Liam says.
“There were lots of bits when I was editing the music video, shots I’d captured, that I was, like, ‘This is really awesome,’ but for a music video, it has to be short and sharp and energetic.”
The complex yet messy digital exhibition displays an array of unorthodox techniques Liam plays with, in what he calls a “creative spanner” – which is a way of describing the CAPITAL WASTE flair.
“I’ll know how to do most of the things in the project but then there’s just room of unknown — a challenge – so it’s something I have to overcome or learn or achieve by the end of a project,” Liam says.
This project’s “creative spanner” was the process of photo-scanning a person, then “rigging them and then getting movement data in them”. The photo-scanned movements were purposely jagged, shown in the animated, unfinished bodies of the Plastiq characters.
Liam used more familiar DIY-based techniques for UNIVERSAL KILLER, including motion capture, bad photogrammetry and video-to-motion data.
“This time I really wanted to see what I could do DIY, kind of lean into the digital aesthetic, lean into the digital artefacts and the things that are only available in digital space,” Liam says.
“So, things like bad photogrammetry — you kind of get these bits where the face just kind of deteriorates or there’s holes in the body or things like that.”
These DIY techniques created an eccentric and unconventional representation of the Plastiq-verse.
“I was careful not to over-polish things, so make them to look like Disney or look like Pixar or something like that,” Liam says.
“I wanted a bit of like digital mess, a bit of digital grit.”
Liam was hesitant to pursue a career in the film industry after studying animation 10 years ago, and was frustrated with its inherently slow pace.
It was only once the technology had caught up to make the artform more time efficient that he decided to practise digital filmmaking.
“I discovered real-time rendering as computers and technologies and software [became] available and accessible,” Liam says.
“It’s this kind of thing where I can make a fully motion-captured digital clip, like one person on one computer, instead of taking teams and teams of people.”
Liam sees digital filmmaking as a way for artists with everyday budgets to pursue their dreams without having to take drastic measures to be successful in creative industries.
“I guess what’s happening to the visual or animation industry is like what happened to the music industry,” he says. “You used to need a massive record deal and go to Tennessee to record your record, but now people are making hit albums on a laptop in their bedrooms… which is pretty cool.”
UNIVERSAL KILLER runs until 30 June.
The Light Room Gallery at Light ADL is located at 63 Light Square, Adelaide and is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 4:30pm ’til late.