In this film artist Wendy McMurdo was exploring humanoid robotics, one the most complex and often provocative areas of artificial intelligence. The film is balletic and otherworldly, theatrical and graceful. It poses the question – at what point are we willing to believe that we might form a real bond with a machine?
For the soundtrack I responded to these ideas by sampling and manipulating operatic voice to create a sound world that sits on the cusp between the natural and the artificial. The voice is recognisable, full of life, breath, and then feels manipulated and extended, machine like. The overall soundtrack aims to both separate the viewer in a kind of floating suspension but then connect with just enough characterful diegetic sound design to connect with the space. Offenbach’s ‘Olympia’ Aria (for a mechanical doll) is the climax to the sound design.
There was no synch sound from the shoot. When creating the soundtrack I was able to visit the Bristol Robotics Lab where the film was shot and record an array of sounds there. Lots of the sounds were designed and recorded in the studio with the help of insects, voice samples and a carpet cleaner.
Olympia was premiered at the 2011 Onedotzero film festival at the British Film Institute, London (and touring) and screened in 2012/3 as part of the Bloomberg Film Salons at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and at the Hackney Picture House, also in London.