After reading the graphic self-love segments in "Portnoy’s Complaint," Jacqueline Susann famously quipped that "Philip Roth is a good writer, but I wouldn’t want to shake his hand." Considering the content of its latest project, Susann would undoubtedly feel similarly about Japanese creative collective Party, whose work is making quite an, um, splash online today.
The New York and Japan-based hybrid lab has created a unique experience for Space Shower TV, an MTV-like J-pop channel, and it’s guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. In order to promote the channel’s post-tsunami message of "music saves tomorrow," the team took a very, very close look at the population who will be around for tomorrow’s saving, and decided to focus on the (unfertilized) unborn. The shop created a series of promo videos in which sperm cells appear to dance to user-selected music.
"The word ‘tomorrow’ led me to think about children," says Party creative director Masashi Kawamura. "But then, using children as a visual seemed too easy as a solution. So I went one step further and thought about using sperms, which is a preliminary phase of children."
Here’s a twist, though: the sperm used in the videos actually, er, comes from Party staff. "We filmed all the staff member's sperms at a lab, and took its texture and motion data to create the animations," Kawamura says. The team then made 15-, 30-, and 60-second commercials from the resulting material, as well as an interactive content where the sperms will dance to any music you can search on Vimeo.
In the commercials, the sperm dance and take on various shapes, such as a musical note or a group of ouroboros-like concentric circles resembling choreographed swimmers. The searchable feature shows the same sperm moving differently to music of the viewer’s choice. Look for Skrillex on the Vimeo interface and watch the sperm zoom past as if rocketing on a ketamine kick; choose Feist instead, and watch them amble by languidly, as though unconcerned with egg fertilization.
The dance routines also have further permutations based on whose sperm you're viewing. For instance, creative director Daito Manabe’s sperm seem to follow the pattern of a sine wave, whereas Kawamura’s guys blast off anarchically into different directions with the subtle precision of a shotgun blast or Dustin Hoffman’s famous toothpick box-drop in Rain Man. Explore for yourself below in the "making of" video (don't worry, it doesn't depict the pre-production process).