When lead creative of MOSS, Nathan Byrne, set out to create a feature of renowned make-up artist Ryan Burke’s otherworldly creations, he had no idea how comprehensive and timely the collaboration would become. Alongside Rousselos Aravantinos on visual effects, Matthew Axe on creative direction and a handful of other creatives all contributing, the finished piece is a showcase of what happens when limitless make-up is allowed to take center stage.

On the tail of one of the most disruptive and impactful years in recent memory, reflecting on what makes us human couldn’t be more relevant. Who are we when we are no longer confined to our offices? What makes a real connection? And how can we explore the relationships we build on their own terms? Emerge is the journey of an alien pair, making their way through NYC’s Chinatown. In a literal dance through their surroundings, they are undisturbed by the high-paced nature of the concrete jungle.

Instead, they take their time, moving in their own rhythm, to a secret beat it seems only they’ve been let in on. When we tie this back to 2020’s blunt reality of how much we actually need the people around us, it goes to show just how important the exploration is. Lockdown has changed our lives upside down – and we emerge with a newfound appreciation for our own humanity.

The respect and partnership between make-up artist Ryan Burke and experimental choreographer Olga Dobrowolska seeps throughout each frame of the piece. The two collaborate on a range of different visual projects, finding symbiosis, balance, and true creative expression between Ryan’s associative process and Olga’s structured visions. Olga compares their work to the pure joy of children at play.

“Like two kids with sparks in their eyes as they share ideas and creative possibilities, endless ideas of performances, videos, photoshoots; twitching around from joy wishing for infinite abundance to make them happen. It’s magic to me,” said Olga.

Ryan’s make-up creations are stunning, provocative, cascading. They go to show just how much power creative expression holds, and how much you can do in the way of artistry with make-up. His 200k-followers Instagram account is one long feed of colour, texture and creativity, and because Ryan is self-taught, his style is also utterly his own.

“I think experimentation has given me a creative edge that I think if I went to school and learned the way a teacher would do things, I’d have picked up their style (instead),” Ryan said.

Nathan saw the potential to tell a story through Ryan’s expression, and so set out to gather a team of other creatives alongside the make-up artist and choreographer – to create something truly special. Long-term MOSS partner and renowned creative director Matthew Axe contributed with a unique, dystopian and pulsating atmosphere that stands as a beautiful visual contrast to the flow and connectivity of the otherworldly Emerge pair.

Once the material was shot in Chinatown, with choreography, production, make-up artistry, creative direction all coming together, post-production elevated the final piece even further. Celebrated visual effects designer Rousselos Aravantinos – famous for his age reduction pieces which landed him a digital compositor role on Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman – added more movement and contrast to Emerge in the form of literal sparks. As Ryan and Olga perform their ethereal choreography, rainbow-colored lights flicker across their reflective faces. They are peculiar and alien; but their flow emulates both beauty and magic.

“When I first heard Nathan’s idea for Emerge, I saw these two people – this couple as a new Adam and Eve from my de-aging piece. Because in a new round of existence, I see them again in this apocalyptic city where everything is crazy and manufactured (…) and suddenly in the middle of the frame, we see a weird-looking pair, with this flow in their motion,” said Rousselos Aravantinos, who the person in charge of visual effects for Emerge.

Work of this nature, that’s so truly creative and explorational, is immensely rewarding for us at MOSS. In the context of the beauty industry, it also goes to show just how much can be done with make-up promotion in showcasing its limitless nature. By giving way to the creative approach, and allowing disruption and flow to guide the production process, you wind up with video pieces that tell stories. Resonant, meaningful and thought-provoking to the audience and creation teams alike.