Creativity 50 2011: Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin

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Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin

Music videos aren't what they used to be, thanks to Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin. Mr. Milk, a director repped out of and Aaron Koblin, a data and digital technology artist whose day job finds him heading up Google Creative Lab's Data Arts Team, are the main creative forces behind groundbreaking interactive music projects like The Johnny Cash Project, which invited visitors to contribute their one-of-a-kind renderings to create an always-changing clip for Johnny Cash's final studio recording, "Aint No Grave." The duo also conceived the multi-awarded "The Wilderness Downtown," for Arcade Fire, which showed off the various features of Google's Chrome Browser, and its follow-up, the recent 3 Dreams of Black, a dreamlike WebGL film promoting Danger Mouse and composer Daniele Luppi's spaghetti-western-inspired album "Rome."

The work, which combines Koblin's data and tech know-how with Milk's serious storytelling chops, has no doubt helped to reenergize the music video genre and reimagine it as something much bigger and more immersive -- though all the digital bells and whistles haven't changed the goal. "We both see technology as a means to tell human stories," Mr. Milk explained. "Code is a canvas, just like cinema or television. You can tell stories through it just like any other visual medium." Added Mr. Koblin, "I've honestly never thought of it as music marketing. I love music and what it does to one's head. It's a magical transformation that leads you into a different space and blesses you with a new perspective. Filmmakers have understood this for a long time -- show someone a picture, and they may not know how they feel about it, show someone a picture with a song and they're already feeling it before they think about it."

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