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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

"Boards of Canada" Website
James Tindall

The “Boards of Canada” website was a dream project. It was immediately apparent that the band and I shared an interest in synaesthetic relationships between audio and visuals and this was to inform the direction of the site. Mike and Marcus approached me in the winter of 2001 with a need for a site to accompany the release of their 3rd album and a completely open brief. Around that time I was becoming increasingly obsessed with Crystal Voyager (an early 70’s surf movie by George Greenough). After half an hour or so the movie plunges into a 30 minute sequence entirely shot from inside breaking waves. The amorphous, pulsating turbulence of the waves and the saturated colours of the 70’s film stock combine to create a breathtaking aesthetic tinged with the same nostalgic flavour so richly present in the music of Boards of Canada. Upon discussing the film with the band I discovered that it was, coincidentally, also their favourite film and that they had even composed music about it.

The site is an attempt to combine the mood and tone of Crystal Voyager with the synaesthetic imagery created in my head while listening to boc’s music. For me boc’s music is always meteorological. Each track suggests a weather condition as well as a location. Rich with meticulously considered textural juxtapositions and colour harmonies, the music also provokes more abstract visual sensations that inspired the kaleidoscopic scenes on the site.

My intention was to provide as immersive an experience as possible with today’s bandwidth. Each scene is between 80 and 150k. The file size is kept low because most of the visuals are created algorithmically. For example, the Island scenes have no image assets at all as the landscape and clouds are all created on the fly by using custom made perlin noise functions. Upon entering an island scene, a new, completely unique island and clouds are created. Another unique island can be reached by flying out to sea. Placed around the islands are sound sample point sources. As you fly around the islands the island song is remixed as the volume and panning of each sound sample is dependant upon your proximity to the point sources and their proximity to each other. As the topology of each island varies the possible mix of the island song also varies.

I have attempted to make the user control of the site as simple as possible. The control of each scene is achieved with the mouse and just a couple of keys. In the island scenes I have attempted to provide the user with the maximum degrees of freedom of movement with as few buttons as possible. Pointing the mouse controls the horizontal direction and holding down the left mouse button increases the speed of movement; letting go you will slow with friction. Pressing “q” will lift you upwards and letting go you will fall with gravity. You can hover by pressing “a”. In an attempt to allow the site to be experienced passively as well as actively there is an auto navigation function that takes the user through the site. The user can turn this function off and navigate manually to any scene by clicking the particular scene in the menu.