Watermills<!-- --> | <!-- -->RTPOWELL design
Weathered crown floating in an oily medium


Jan 24, 2021


Music video for the band Samvega

A Samsaran Space Odyssey

Watermills is a story set during the end of the universe. We don't know what's really going to happen, but there are theories. Matter will dissipate, protons decaying into component particles. Black holes, the dominant species long after stars use up all their hydrogen fuel, will evaporate, suffering a death of a thousand cuts in the form of Hawking radiation.

Realistically, the long ambush of heat death will be empty beyond comprehension, so this video is a symbolic interpretation of that distant time. Here the wheel of a watermill is a stand-in for the symbolic wheel of Samsara, the beginningless and endless cycle of death and rebirth. And water is dynamism, animation, and the font of life.

A strange being emerges with a mask and trumpet

The stage is set on the last planet, below the last star, below the last black hole. A dead planet, where the last vestiges of animation are ideas of power and hierarchy that persist as energies emanating from ancient monuments. Ideas that, without anybody to observe them, are deteroiating into psychic effluvium.

Soaring across this empty place is a final instrument of war, an ancient entity of violence searching for a target amidst a theatre of craters and bone. When it finds counterpart in the final monument to serenity, it unleashes its last payload, ultimately destroying itself. And with no inhabitants left, the universe hatches a being to play the song to end that universe and begin another. Filling existence with water once again.

Music of the Universe

The opportunity to work with artists that you admire is a blessing. The members of Samvega were gracious enough to let me choose a song, so I selected one that I had only heard live. Not only was that song six and a half minutes long (much longer than I recollected), the song itself was liminally recorded, and the album it's to be a part of in an embryonic state, all requiring their own process of tinkering and mastering. So the creation of the song and the video overlapped.

A glowing melting crown, with moths

My previsual was set to a raw, unmastered version of the music. As I appromixated the deadline, Joshua would send newer masters of the song that I would integrate into the workflow.

I can definitely say that we all hit the big red render button, but I couldn't give you a definitive answer that these things are really "done" in our minds. Art can sometimes feel like an endless cycle.


A crew of multidimensional artists steeped in rust and the psychedelic.

  • Pat Fiestel - Drums, Vocals
  • Melissa Baker - Vocals, Guitar, Lapsteel, Electric Mandolin
  • Mercedes Baker - Synth, Vocals
  • Ricky Escareno - Vocals, Guitar, Trumpet
  • Joshua Beaman - Sound Engineer

Instruments of Creation

The software I used for this project was mainly Blender, It was composited with AfterEffects, the landscapes were created with Gaea, Visions of Chaos provided additional special effects, and some textures were made with a free little tool called Materialize.

A magic trumpet with a glowing ball of light

One of the more fun parts of this project was using procedural and image textures to mask and map each other. For instance, an image texture could be used with itself or another image texture, and masked with perlin noise to create the appearance of non repetitious tiling, or an image texture could be used as a mask for an animated procedural texture.

Objects of Antiquity

It's my belief that every artist must afford themselves the time and space to create ambitiously. So that they can effect a change in themselves through an untested process of creation. This is mirrored in the hatching of the demiurge that kickstarts a new reality, holding a small and well worn trumpet, they reveal themselves to be an artist. The process of creation changes this being, abstracts it, and ultimately, it's left to be forgotten, usurped by their creation.

The imagery should be at least somewhat familar to anyone familiar with the works of Zdzisław Beksiński, and the paintings superimposed over the being were painted by members of Samvega.

© 2023 Richard Powell