The Meta spot shows four young art students exploring a museum when they are drawn into an unexpected 3D reality. A 1908 Rousseau painting – Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo − bursts into life, revealing a world of lush vegetation, distant planets, raving flamingos and jungle bears.
As the immersive scene opens up, the tiger announces: ‘This is the dimension of imagination’, a quote apparently borrowed from the sci-fi horror film The Twilight Zone. The initially puzzled students begin to bop gently to the sound of Way in My Brain by SL2 and the tiger and the buffalo stop fighting.
The original Rousseau painting portrays a tiger pinning a buffalo to the ground, suffocating the animal by biting on its neck. Like Facebook/Meta, the name of the painting was changed. It was originally titled ‘In the Tropical Forest: Battling Tiger and Buffalo’, but that was switched to ‘Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo’ because of the fierceness of the duel. Incidentally, Rousseau, a tax collector by profession, was in prison for fraud at the time he produced the painting.
The concept was brought to life by Andrew Thomas Huang, the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker known for his iconic visual style and collaborations with Bjork, FKA twigs and Thom Yorke, among others.
A cast of puppets was built, guided by Huang’s creative vision and characters designed by Sonny Gerasimowicz (who also worked on Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are). The Electric Theatre Collective was also involved in the project, developing a process whereby AI machine learning was used to treat the live-action animal puppets and connect them with the 3D CG environments they inhabit in the film.
This was then rendered in a style inspired by Henri Rousseau. The ad ends with a message from Meta: ‘This is going to be fun.’ Which leaves one question: If Mark Zuckberg is the tiger, who is the buffalo?
Object & Animal website
Electric Theatre Collective website