The following post is brought to you by Squarespace. Our partners are hand picked by the Design Milk team because they represent the best in design.
If you’re looking to DIY a website, there’s really no better platform than Squarespace. (And I’m speaking from my own experience.) The fact that someone with very little coding experience can create a phenomenal site, has been the genius of the tool. The DIY side of things falls right within my Squarespace comfort zone, but with just a little bit of additional technical know how, the platform opens up. To demonstrate that flexibility, Squarespace partnered with the David Lynch Foundation (which uses the power of transcendental meditation to bring healing and empowerment to those suffering with toxic stress) to explore the possibilities of creating an immersive art experience.
The impetus for the project was to celebrate the release of the David Lynch album, The Music of David Lynch. And so as an homage to the best of Lynch, the iconic Hollywood actor John Malkovich recreated some of the most well-known Lynch characters in a series of short videos directed by photographer Sandro Miller. Henry Spencer from Eraserhead, Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth, Twin Peaks’ Log Lady, the Lady in the Radiator and the Mystery Man of Lost Highway, and John Merrick in The Elephant Man all get some Malkovich (creepy!) magic. The vignettes are tied together with Malkovich also playing Lynch himself: reciting parts of various interviews that the director has given over the years.
The clips are scored by an impressive roster of musicians that includes Lykke Li, The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd, Zola Jesus, and Sky Ferreira, who cover music from the album. (You can watch all the videos and experience the site at PlayingLynch.com) The shorts will have more impact if you’ve seen some of Lynch’s work (If you haven’t. Stop reading and head over to Netflix. Seriously.)
Then it was up to the creative team at Squarespace to create an immersive web experience that transcends the traditional linear website. For a little insight into the Squarespace involvement from working with an impressive roster of performers to creating a media rich site that is as deeply creative as the collaborators, Squarespace Chief Creative officer David Lee pulled back the curtain how his team created Playing Lynch.
Where did the idea for “Playing Lynch” come from?
Playing Lynch was the result of creatively aligned individuals who all had the same vision and goal for an innovative new web project. The David Lynch Foundation first reached out to us after seeing our Sleeping Tapes Superbowl project with Jeff Bridges, and shortly thereafter, we began conversations around a creative campaign in support of their foundation. We pride ourselves on having the best and most creative customers in the world, and it was an honor to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the works of David Lynch with this project.
Why did Squarespace feel it was important to be involved?
While we may be known first and foremost as a web publishing platform, Squarespace is much more than that. We believe that each and every creative idea deserves a beautiful online home, and Squarespace allows for such ideas to be curated and expressed in a way that no other platform can do. With such a unique undertaking as Playing Lynch, we wanted to use Squarespace to redefine what an online art gallery could be. We’re constantly challenging ourselves to create new ways of showcasing content online, and it was important for us to take on challenges like this collaboration to continually push what we can achieve with our platform.
Can you talk about what it was like collaborating with all these great artists?
One of the best things about Squarespace is the caliber of our customers. In all of our projects and campaigns, we seek to tell authentic stories about real customers, as we feel that those are always more genuine and compelling. Collaborating with the David Lynch Foundation, John Malkovich, and director Sandro Miller was such an honor, not only because of the great cause we were supporting, but also because we were all aligned on our creative goals and mission. Everyone involved in the project was incredibly dedicated to producing the best product possible, and working with such passionate and talented individuals is always a phenomenal experience.
Lynch preaches that transcendental meditation is a way to tap into deep-rooted creativity… talk about how TM played into the creative process for this exhibition? How does the project play into the idea of transcendental meditation (i.e., this idea that there are no new ideas)?
We called this project a collaborative meditation on the work of David Lynch. His work is all about going deeper to catch the big fish, and in conceptualizing this project, we wanted to create a user experience that played with this idea—inviting our collaborators and viewers along for the ride.
I do also believe that there are no new ideas—everyone is grabbing fragments of ideas from the past and remixing them into something new. While we set out to create something original, that doesn’t necessarily mean reinventing the wheel. Though Playing Lynch clearly borrowed from some of David Lynch’s most iconic films, the goal was never to completely recreate each of the scenes. Rather, John Malkovich and director Sandro Miller worked together to interpret each vignette in a way that would pay homage to David Lynch while simultaneously adding something new and unique to the scene. Ultimately, the finished product was a filmic, cinematic art experience that subverted the notion that art and film must be hosted in a physical gallery, museum, or theater.
Do you have a personal Lynch film favorite? Or favorite part of the site.
My favorite part of the site was actually in the anticipation. Before playinglynch.com was fully unlocked, we had a countdown page featuring John Malkovich as David Lynch in silhouette. It kept everyone in suspense and really helped build buzz around the ultimate unveiling, and set the tone for the mystery and intrigue of the site as a whole. I also appreciated that scrolling your mouse over the Playing Lynch logo allowed you to “play” a virtual piano, or at the very least, hear a few ghostly notes.
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