Max Cooper has carved out his own artistic space between the worlds of emotional dancefloor experimentation, fine-art sound design, and tireless and varied attempts to examine the scientific world through visuals. Cooper's critically acclaimed festival and club performances, and his album Human, draw heavily on juxtaposition: ambient and overwhelming, beautiful and furious, excessive and restrained. His video work engages with scientific concepts including complexity, natural form, heredity, dimensionality, gravitation, emergence, number theory and morphogenesis, and his over seventy released tracks are now joined by twenty-seven commissioned video works.
Born in 1980 and raised in Belfast, Cooper’s university years saw his first forays into DJing and genetics, leading to a PhD in computational biology while releasing his first work in 2007. Since then, he has left behind his academic career and expanded his musical palette to include psychoacoustics, 3D sound design, field recordings, a focus on melody rare in electronic music circles, and work with artists including noted contemporary classical composers Michael Nyman and Nils Frahm, pop acts Hot Chip, Au Revoir Simone, BRAIDS, MMOTHS, pianist Tom Hodge and vocalist Kathrin de Boer.
'The 4DSOUND system, and a lot of the work I do with my music in terms of spatiality and trying to create immersive spaces and structures within them, has to do with psycho-acoustics and the power of sound to create our perception of the reality we’re in. The idea is to create an alternative reality that can be very beautiful, relaxing, jarring, and even uncomfortable, but still an interesting experience that can communicate a new idea.'
- Max Cooper on 4DSOUND for The Creator's Project
'The 4D show is a club experience, but it’s also almost a museum experience. It’s somewhere in between.'
- Max Cooper in conversation with Fast Company
Max Cooper is an artist regularly associated with 4DSOUND since the premiere of his 4DSOUND Live Show in August 2013. His 4DSOUND show received strong acclaim from international audiences and press, evoking an experience that was considered completely new in the context of club music.
'The music danced around us instead of us dancing on it …many people sat down on the ground with their eyes closed, the performance became almost meditation …when the performance was finally finished, the crowd shook awake as from a dream, not fully believing of what they had just experienced.'
- DJ Mag
With his background as a scientist in the field of computational biology, Cooper also has a feel for a didactic, analytic approach which he expressed in six sound sculptures created in 4DSOUND. In a humorous, abrasive or thought-provoking way, each of the sculptures is designed to convey particular spatial perceptions, such as having moments with single sounds to demonstrate clear paths, implosions and explosions, positions and other spatial effects.
'I had to imagine, how would I want to hear each piece of music under the assumption that it is a living physical entity that exists in real space and time. It takes away some of the abstraction of the emotive and subconscious response to music that I usually use to drive my creative process, and turns the music into something much more real in an everyday sense – it has to be something that you can walk inside, explore and discover new things within.'
- Max Cooper in A Magazine