Fresh from the field — Frozen in Time, Human Beings, Utrecht, The Netherlands by Gerbrand van Melle. 

11 months ago by

This Fresh from the Field features a series of album art for techno music act Human Beings designed by Gerbrand van Melle.

If you have new or recent work that you would like to share in Fresh from the Field email Louise for details.


Commission Context:

Human Beings was founded in 1991 by Allert Aalders, Bert van de Grift, and Peter Knijnenburg. It was an exciting time in which electronic dance music started to bloom.

Allert from Human Beings and Gerbrand go way back. Gerbrand studio’s digital fabrication methods were straight-up experimental, and something called the internet was looming at the horizon.

Gerbrand, Allert, Bert and Peter were immersed in the digital-tech culture, frequenting the same clubs, reading the same books, and influenced by the possibilities of coding within their creative practices.

The Brief:

Album art for Human Beings was a collaborative effort between Bert and Allert’s friends—including Gerbrand—which resulted in a diverse mix of different visual expressions.

In early 2019 Allert asked Gerbrand to revisit all the Human Beings album artwork to pull the collection together as a cohesive series. Allowing Allert to publish his existing albums and possible new work to streaming services like Spotify. Consistency and diversity within one visual system were vital.

The Design Response:

The shapes are recalculations of the actual sound files. They were created using two pieces of custom made design software developed in collaboration with former AUT colleague Stefan Marks. The first analyses the sound and the second translates the data into 3D shapes.

The complete sound characteristics (Frequency, Amplitude, Time) of all tracks of each album were translated into the X-Y-Z axes resulting in unique 3D shapes. Type is in Modernist heavyweight Neue Haas Grotesk, (Helvetica in its most foundational form).

Gerbrand imagined these shapes to be music fossils hidden under an artificial layer and ready to be discovered in a not so near future. Sound, a memory frozen in time.

A personal note from the designer:

“Sadly in 2005 Bert died, and two years later Peter passed away. Losing close friends impacts everybody’s lives deeply, and I find creative processes the best therapy to deal with big circumstances like these. My wife’s death in 2013 resulted in a project called Sound Bites which had visualising the invisible at the core. It formed the starting point of creating sound objects and developing software to design these. The Human Beings album series is a continuation of this sentiment. You can discover more of this way of making in my 2017 Creative Mornings talk.”


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