Being “90% thinking, 10% doing”, the project “Syncope” by Virgile Flores explores the close relationship between music and graphic design. As he produces his own music since many years, the Paris based graphic designer decided to capture the similarities in his approach between these two fields. “It took a long time to find exactly want I wanted to do, then a long time again to figure out what exactly that project was all about”, Virgile tells us about the beginning of this work which started as being his diploma project. “During my research, I was digging a lot into synesthesia, a physiologic phenomenon. And then I found articles about this treatise, saying that Newton was in fact one of the first person seeing a relation between colors he was studying and sound. He did a color wheel with notes in between, because he found that the intervals looked similar. Following this approach, each sound has its own color related. That was the whole starting point of the project. How to use scientific/technologic elements, visuals, theories gravitating around a musical piece, into a graphical approach.”
Based on this intensive research, Virgile released his EP with Synchrophone, a french record label and distributor. For the music, he used softwares imitating real world instruments to create sounds that are slightly unnatural, while still being real instruments somehow. A sound apart from the real world. After the release, he teamed up with Victor Sillon and Merlin Blondel to work on an extension of the project, by doing a photo series that presents the EP in a really complex, unique way.“Syncope is not really about pop music, so it needed a strange vibe around it, we tried to think the images as if the disc was an UFO crashed on earth, full with debris, with strange light & textures, cracked vinyls, scratched covers … Because the project is based on research, it is full of complex scientific theories, the photos needed to be loud and complex to stay on that line.” The EP always being the centre of the photographs, the abstracts objects surrounding it create a mystical, foreign world that awakens fantasies of science fiction and utopias.
Just like the music, the photographs seem slightly unreal and could create the impression that some sort of 3d software has been in use – but they are actually 100% photographed. “We spent a lot of time doing research and thinking about how we could show the cover and the design through this medium. It took a long time but we wanted to be extremely prepared to go through the production process. I’d say it was almost 90% thinking, 10% doing”, Virgile tells us about the working process.
Compared to other projects, it was difficult for Virgile to play both roles – the role of the musician on whose sound the project is based on and the role of the designer who presents the sound visually. “It was a struggle to do both the content and the container. I learn that graphic design is having a step back, a perspective on the project. And it’s hard to do so when you’re doing everything.”
Besides pretty tight work schedules and the temptation “to start drinking beer” the collaboration between the three designers who met during their studies “could not have been better”. Before asking them to join the project, Virgile already knew that Victor and Merlin “could bring something great to this series, I had some ideas but together we found a real purpose for these images.” The three designers who currently work as freelancers all have a strong focus on editorial design and typography. The other projects in their portfolios show the same modern, cross-disciplinary approach as “Syncope” and are connected by a detailed, clear and contemporary aesthetic.
Virgile’s own fascination for graphic design awakened not until his early twenties. “It came very late actually. I was in a sport school until my 22 yo, but wasn’t sure about a possible future in that field. A friend of mine just introduced me to Photoshop and that’s how I got the virus, and decided to change my career path.” Besides his own self-initiated projects, he has worked on several collaborations in the past, among them“Pirelli” together with Valentin Bajolle and “Carded” with David Bonaglia. “Collaborations are a good way to gather knowledge from another creative field, and to meet people. It is a good way to gather knowledge from another creative field, and to meet people, how bad can it be.”