Peter Gabriel’s follow-up release to Xplora 1, EVE, is a music and art adventure game, encompassing the worlds of science, art, and philosophy. Teams of designers and programmers in Seattle and England worked on the multi-million dollar co-production for over two years. EVE won the Milia D’Or Grand Prize at the 1997 Cannes Festival.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE OLD FASHIONED ROCK ALBUM?
At the end of 1996, I started working with Peter Gabriel on a new interactive CD-ROM project (EVE). Gabriel had been introduced to Paul Allen, the other half of Microsoft, who wanted him to work on a sort of interactive songbook for his new Starwave multi-media label, based in Seattle. I had directed Xplora 1 with Peter, and was working as creative director at Real World by this time, so he asked me to work with Scot Blum the producer of the project and his team to help develop the idea. Peter was beginning his Secret World tour. For the next two years I shuttled between Real World and Starwave, working mainly with Peter, Scott Blum, the art director Magdalena and Michael Coyote who was developing custom software for the disc. Eve grew into a huge project and sadly not all of the people who started working on the project survived. Eventually the core team were Peter Gabriel, myself, Ralph Derricson producer for Starwave, Mike Large producer for Real World, Michael Coyote and Richard Evans who acted as musical director. EVE was a big hit artistically and it's amazing how many people claim it as a credit. I remember Peter Gabriel saying, " If it's a hit, everyone did it, if it flops suddenly no one's involved."
Eve won the Milia D’Or the Grand Prize at Cannes in 1997, beating Microsoft, Discovery Channel, and Monty Python.
EVE: EVOLUTIONARY VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT
When is a rock album not a rock album? When it is also a video game, an art gallery and – blimey – a treatise on relationships. In All in EVE Peter Gabriel’s new CD ROM.One day, all pop stars will record this way.
Eve Promotional video
Conceived as a kind of musical song book EVE quickly outgrew this concept and became a new form of interactive media where music and art were combined with intellectual themes and esoteric imagery in a playful interactive game.
This trans Atlantic collaboration between Real World and Starwave Corporation took a team of more than 60 people over two years to develop and produce. The game uses over 22,000 images to create 160 screens with over 80 minutes of video and 45 minutes music. It was the second CD ROM from Real World, after Xplora 1.
The initial task you are given in EVE is to create life by fertilising an egg with a sperm cursor. You may then embark on a journey which blends contemporary art, music, and new technology, and which allows you to explore, in a playful way, the eternal riddle of the relationship between man, woman and nature.
EVE uses the story of Adam and Eve’s separation and banishment from Eden as a starting point for the adventure. The player must guide Adam (Peter Gabriel) through four very different evolutionary landscapes in his search for Eve. Throughout this journey you will make your own choices and decisions, and solve riddles – rewards and punishments are given deepening on how you play the game.
You also meet a variety of different artists, scientists and specialists and more importantly explore four Interactive Environments or musical worlds inspired by previously unreleased versions of Peter Gabriel’s songs: Come Talk to Me, Shaking the Tree, In your Eyes, and Passion. The main objective of the game is to help Adam in hi search for Eve, reunite them and regain Paradise.
Eve is genuinely interactive and as your journey progresses you are able to collect various musical samples, each represented by a moving icon. With these you will construct musical toys. This will allow you to mix and record your own personal versions of the tracks and create your own interactive video for three of the four songs.
The four songs serve as a foundation from which the interactive environments have been constructed, incorporating work specially commissioned from four contemporary artists: Helen Chadwick, Cathy De Monchaux Yayoi Kusama and Nils Udo. All of the artists bring their own distinctive styles and influences to the worlds of EVE.
Peter Gabriel commented:
Wit EVE we wanted to go even deeper than we had with Xplora 1 . I believe that in the next few years, kids will develop their own multimedia language that we will all ultimately adopt. I expect we will all use this language in many different ways and one of the most revealing will be how we apply it to the difficult process of finding a mate. Relationships. Spiritual matters and nature will all become important new focal points for technology that will perhaps allow us to relate better to others.
Paul Allen 1996
One of the really unique aspects of EVE is that it is a new kind of interactive musical experience. What we are trying to do is change music videos from the current passive entertainment which exits today, into an interactive experience. Someone using EVE could customize and interact with the song, change the song in a dynamic way and personalize it.
I was involved in starting Microsoft twenty years ago, and since then I have always been excited about the potential to combine pure technology with entertainment, music content or movie content.
MY companies are all about combining technology with exciting and compelling interactive entertainment content. Interval research Corp, my research company in the Bay area is basically trying to develop new technologies and create new products which will push forward the boundaries of multimedia – that's everything from doing basic research to understanding what kinds of multimedia technology people will be interested in using in the next ten years.
One of the things I am very excited about is the potential of technology to really change the way people interact. In my mind, anything that increases people’s ability to communicate and talk about what’s important in their lives is a positive force. and these things will have a strong impact. Anytime there’s a way to check the pulse of people’s thinking, it has to be a very positive development.
As with Xplora 1 Gabriel allows the user to experiment with his music. Richard Evans was EVE’s musical director and sound designer: What we are really trying to do is give the thrill of making music to non musicians. You don’t need to be a musician to get the full pleasure of playing with music in EVE. I think the good thing about computers nowadays is that they give people experiences that previously you would have to work very hard to achieve.
I spent a long time researching selecting and remixing previously unheard tracks from Peter’s archives. I had to sort through every single tape, listen to everything which was on every single track and try and find performances that we could use for EVE which didn’t get onto the record. I wanted people to really get a sense of what it is like when it comes to mixing one of these tracks.
One of the results was the Interactive music experiences where you can create your own musical and visual experience with the elements you have found. Each musical experience has two major components, background or mood music loops and fly-ins. The background loops can be thought of as accompanying instruments while the fly-ins are lead instruments or vocals. Every mood background and every fly-in has a unique visual representation tied to its audio sample. It is via these visual elements that you can pick and choose moods and fly-0ins to play and create audio mixes and video experiences.
For each song there are 12 background elements loops and anywhere from 18 to 21 fly-ins. Each musical experience has a number of default moods and fly-ins that are always available. The rest are hidden throughout the EVE game. As you uncover there music samples, they become available to you to p[lay within the musical experience which are represented by three separate screens: buttons, chooser and video.
Michael Coulson the director of EVE also explains:
With Eve we want to hand the tools over to you and give you a chance to play with the music and pictures, create your own personal interpretation and get lost in the world. We asked a group of Scientists to get involved with the experiment and they lent us their expertise. We’ve tried to create a meeting of minds and take you on a trip between the right and left-hand sides of the brain.
For me the process of making something is always organic. With EVE it wasn’t until we were a long way into production that thread that you follow throughout EVE emerged. It was the simple story of Adam being separated from EVE and his subsequent quest to be reunited, that held together all the multiple layers of the game .
I was filming the artist Nils Udo making his art piece – a nest of willow branches and straw. A little boy got into the nest and we set it afloat. Watching it drift down the river it seemed an immensely rich mythical symbol. I thought that’s what happens when a relationship really works. We used the child in the nest as a symbol of a new beginning.
When we put the people in and out of love in front of the cameras I thought they would be very shy and frightened to open up. I was surprised how much they trusted us, relaxed and told us the most intimate things. I was awed by this and I realised that it grounded the story and gave EVE a documentary reality that was perhaps lacking before.
SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE
Generally CD-ROMS are used either as conduits for information – a handy means of accessing encyclopaedias, the paintings of the National Gallery or the animals of San Diego Zoo – or for entertainment. But EVE is different, in that it breaks down the walls between passive and active. Peter Gabriel said the elements supplied by the visual artists were put into a “sort of playpen”. The singer is known for experimenting in the multimedia world. His long-term plans include designing an interactive theme park near Barcelona, and for his latest album, US, he commissioned 11 paintings to illustrate the songs.
This time he has chosen a disparate bunch of artists. There is Yayoi Kusama and her swirling dots. In the 1960s the Japanese artist became famous in New York for painting writhing couples in a series of erotic happenings; since 1977 she has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo. The German landscape artist Nils Udo spent a week at Real World, Gabriel’s studio outside Bath, creating his installations with a chain saw. His is perhaps the most memorable image of all: a five year ld boy curled up and fast asleep, floating downstream on a circular raft made of hazel sticks. Cathy de Monchaux created space invaders made from velvet and metal. But, after her sudden death last April, it is inevitably Helen Chadwick who will excite the most interest. Gabriel first met her at London’s Serpentine Gallery at the exhibition that featured her original chocolate fountain, and bought a set of her wreaths. “They are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,” he says, “made out of radically incompatible products – cleaning effluents, flower petals, berries..”
Any collaboration between rock stars and contemporary artists is ripe for pretension, and this one is certainly no exception, “ Although O often forget,” says Gabriel wistfully in one of the snippets scattered throughout EVE, “I have learnt that it is only by changing yourself that you can change a relationship, not by changing the other person.”
Sunday Times magazine 1997
A PAIR TO REMEMBER
JUDGING FROM PETER GABRIEL'S COMPELLING 'EVE' AND THE DELIGHTFUL INTERACTIVE STORYBOOK 'SMARTY,' REPORTS OF THE ARTISTIC DEATH OF CD-ROMS HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED.
By Ty Burr
Ty Burr is a writer at large for EW and is no relation to Raymond or Aaron
Eve is a follow-up to Gabriel's 1994 Xplora1 CD-ROM, and it's vast and magical enough to help explain why he hasn't put out any new records lately (the art-rocker served as creative leader for the project, overseeing a 60-person team of designers and techies). The disc is structured as a four-part journey that allegorically parallels man's rise from pre-civilization Eden: As you nose around and solve fluidly intuitive puzzles, the screen gradually evolves through successive worlds of mud, greenery, industrial squalor, and post-nuclear waste, and into a hopeful new paradise. Each ''world'' incorporates the work of a visual artist -- the late Helen Chadwick, for example, contributes eerily tactile collages to one section -- and each also allows you to collect snippets of a Gabriel hit, such as ''In Your Eyes,'' for eventual remixing (the least compelling part of the disc).
Sounds so pretentious you need to wear black just to watch it, huh? Well, it would be if the visuals weren't cinematically vivid, the soundtrack weren't rich with moody ambiance, the whole project weren't crackling with a gentle surrealism that, for the most part, sidesteps Gabriel's penchant for artsy-fartsy earnestness. Eve is, in fact, the first CD-ROM since Myst in which you can blissfully lose yourself for days, the world outside fading as your brain receives a lovely massage.
The Golden Year of Cd-rom Technology
(Extract from: “Marita Liulia, Art in the Age of Availability”, by Stella Bottai & Antonella Sbrilli, Amos Anderson Museum Publications, new series 50, 2003).
Around 1996, cd-rom technology is not only a new platform enabling transformation into digital format of material that already exists on paper or on tape; neither is it a mere medium for sophisticated linguistic experiments, initiated in the beginning of the 90’s by artists attentive to technical developments. Instead, cd-rom is a new culture bearer that allows the activation of old, unrealized functionalities of analog and sequential media, and, above all, offers a means of expression to a world of contemporary experiences in an up-to-date form.
Consequently, the flow on the market of reasonably-priced cd-roms encourages artists and researchers to use this medium to offer a hypermedial perspective into their own work (collection of images that can be navigated via intersecting linkages, virtual galleries)..
During the same period in the Pacific region and at MIT in Boston, some researchers found themselves on the borderline between science and design, creativity and zen culture, art and technology, as they examined the interaction with the computer in creating experiences on the screen that are generated by our movements.
In year 1996 the cd-rom Eve (Evolutionary Virtual Environment) is published, an interactive music cd - game, adventure, philosophical work, a metaphor of existence, music and love, created and produced by Peter Gabriel, the famous English musician and former singer of Genesis, and founder of Real World (record/multimedia company, one of the first to distribute African and Asian music worldwide). Gabriel collaborates with four artists to build a visual interface: Japanese Yakoi Kusama, British Helen Chadwick, Cathy de Monchaux (active within discussions on the masculine/feminine) and Nils-Udo, an artist who has since the 70’s created works in the nature with water, fire and leaves.
In Eve, the user moves around with a divining rod (wondering in emptiness for long periods of time) – immersed in atmospheres of magical realism, landscapes and environments that can be navigated in 360 degrees (enabled by QuickTimeVR technology) – trying to discover the active elements in the interface that are required for him/her to move on. The mechanism is similar to the legendary computer game Myst (also on cd-rom, 1993), but in Eve, music plays a significant role. By solving puzzles the user collects music samples and gets access to Interactive Music Xperience where it is possible to remix Peter Gabriel’s songs. Starting from a landscape of lost paradise, the user must pass through various environments (Mud; The Garden; Profit; Art and Nature), meet different characters and interact with Gabriel’s songs, in order to finally come to the end of the journey after over 50 hours of navigation.
Eve is considered as a masterpiece, but also as a cryptic work, evoking both emotion and irritation, which makes it a work of great artistic courage, as it creates resonance between excellent music and contemporary art. The following year, Eve wins Milia d’Or award at the multimedia festival in Cannes.