American post-rock band, Explosions in the Sky has released a psychedelic new video for their track ‘Ecstatics’. The first official music video of their 18-year long career, they enlisted the help of filmmaker and animator Hayley Morris to create a spell-binding and surreal stop-motion piece. Filled with Morris’ deftly hand-crafted figures and creatures that shift in tandem with Explosions in the Sky’s intricate, instrumental sound, it’s as technically impressive as it is beautiful.
The one behind the animation studio Shape & Shadow, Morris is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design where she also serves as adjunct faculty. Boasting an impressive list of clients including Samsung, Burt’s Bees and McDonald’s, she also has a passion for making music videos, having previously created visuals for both Iron and Wine, and Pure Bathing Culture. When approached by Explosions to create the visuals ‘Ecstatic’, she was given a brief too open ended to resist; tapping into the “wilderness of the mind.”
“I immediately thought of the beautiful chaos that is in the mind space and how that space has a multitude of transitions, whether it’s a transition from life to death or going from unknowing to knowing,” Morris says. “The music really lends itself to that. When you listen to it, you kind of just float into this other space.”
Without the constraints of a highly specific brief, Morris was free to unleash her creativity how she saw fit. Using paper, glass, and various translucent objects, she spent hours transforming the materials into human body parts – including breathing lungs and blood coursing through veins – and more. By playing with camera techniques and light and shadow, she built simple yet cinematic scenes that are engrossingly abstract.
While stop-motion is a painstakingly exacting process, it's one that Morris loves. In an accompanying ‘Making of’ film (which you can watch below), she reveals the intricacy of her process, showing the viewer how each figure seen in the ‘Ecstatics’ video comes to life. For Morris, this kind of hands-on approach is vital in ensuring an element of humanity remains present in her work.
“Everything is so steeped in technological innovation these days,” she explains. “I just feel like getting back to making handmade images and pushing what that could be. It’s important for me to keep that alive.”