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rob sheridan

the social network soundtrack art

For The Social Network soundtrack art, my goal was to walk the line between representing the film and creating something that stood as a piece of art on its own, much as the soundtrack itself does.

For the cover, I needed to represent the branding of the film, but neither Trent nor I wanted the photo of Jesse Eisenberg to be the cover as directly as it was in the film's poster. By blurring out the photo and placing the title text over Eisenberg's eyes, I was able to create a cover that evoked the film's branding while distancing itself from it at the same time. The style of fonts used in the film and its marketing were something Trent and I both really liked, so we preserved that for the soundtrack.

For the internal art, Sony gave me a batch of publicity stills from the film to utilize if I wanted. By their nature none of them were particularly artistic, and I wasn't sure how useful they'd be for the artwork. Trent expressed an interest in creating a package that could stand on its own whether or not listeners had seen the film. Given that we conceded a bit on the album cover, he said "let's make the inside packaging weird."

An early idea I had was to digitally corrupt the images we had from the film, combining a "glitch art" visual aesthetic I've always been interested in with a metaphor for digital images shared on Facebook, the corruption they're susceptible to, and the corruption portrayed in the film. This idea resonated with Trent, so I began experimenting with different ways to destroy the publicity stills Sony had sent me.

Whereas in previous projects (especially With Teeth and Year Zero) I'd used careful manual processes to create digital glitches, this time I actually destroyed images by opening them up in a text editor and adding/removing text to their raw code.

It was a very experimental, trial-and-error process - I tried different file types, different rendering methods (for example, damaged Photoshop files render much more interestingly in OSX's Preview than in Photoshop itself), and different types of text injected into the image files (I grabbed random paragraphs of text from around the web - ridiculous fan-fiction sites were a fun source). The results are what you see below - these images were distorted through manual editing of the image files in a text editor, not through intricate Photoshop work.

Aside from the cover, these are the raw images - they were later cropped for the album layout. The CD, Blu-ray, and vinyl editions of the album all utilize slightly different artwork elements.