Eno review – stimulating and cerebral look at the high priest of art-tech experimentalism

Eno review – stimulating and cerebral look at the high priest of art-tech experimentalism

Produced using software that means that the film is different every time it is shown, this presents the former Roxy Music man as a restlessly creative mind

If anyone could get away with presenting a “generative documentary” rather than a bog-standard bio-doc, it would have to be Brian Eno, the high priest of art-tech experimentalism. This film promises to be different every time it’s shown, thanks to software that randomly selects different scenes (with bleepy, glitchy little interludes to remind us what’s it’s doing). The gimmick is entirely on-brand for Eno, who has been dabbling in generative music (music determined by a preordained set of parameters, that never repeats itself) since the 1990s, and who has never met an artistic process he couldn’t question, dismantle and rearrange in a novel way. From his early days gilding Roxy Music with a futuristic edge, to his avant garde solo works, to his production duties on classic albums by the likes of David Bowie, U2 and Talking Heads (no mention of Coldplay here), he’s always been an explorer, as this pick’n’mix doc accentuates.

Directed by Gary Hustwit (best known for typography doc Helvetica) it’s less an intimate character study and more a “the world according to”; a scrapbook of scenes from Eno’s extensive video archives mixed in with footage of Eno in his home studio and garden in rural England, and his scattershot analytical musings on art and life. “Why do we like music?” for example, or “The human brain has shrunk by about 15% in the past 20,000 years” – but he’s actually funnier and more self-deprecating than he comes across on paper. After dropping the typically Eno-esque revelation that he stopped eating breakfast to enhance his creative process (“output before input”), he immediately admits that he’s starving and can’t wait till lunch.

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