Beginning his career in music videos and photography, Chris Milk’s work has expanded beyond the traditional: his art straddles experimental genres and unfamiliar mediums, turning new technologies, web browsers, ephemeral events and even physical gestures into new found canvasses. His work continues to test the frontiers of interactive technology and art as Founder and CEO of Within (formally Vrse), a virtual reality media company, and Co-Founder of Here Be Dragons (formally Vrse.works), a virtual reality production company. Milk presented at TED in 2015 on the power of virtual reality as a medium to advance humanity.
Milk first gained recognition as a music video director, working with Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Beck, Jack White, U2, Johnny Cash, Gnarls Barkley, The Chemical Brothers, John Mellencamp, Courtney Love, and Modest Mouse. He has been honored with the top industry awards for his music video and commercial work, including the Grand Prix Cannes Lion, the D&AD Black Pencil, the Grand Clio, and SXSW’s ‘Best of Show’, as well as multiple Grammy® nominations, MTV Moon Men, and the UK MVA Innovation Award.
In recent years, Milk has focused on using cross-media innovations to enhance emotional human storytelling, exposing the beauty in the things – physical, digital, intangible – that connect us all. “The Johnny Cash Project” and “The Wilderness Downtown” with Arcade Fire take the intensely personal, emotive power of music and use breakthrough technologies to create a visual experience that is interconnected to a global consciousness while still being individually meaningful and moving for each participant. Milk partnered again with Arcade Fire in 2011 for “Summer Into Dust,” a kaleidoscopic, crowd-fueled installation that physically connected the audience and their collective emotional response with the band and their performance at Coachella, widely credited as the highlight moment of the festival. “This Exquisite Forest” is a collaborative online piece that turns branching stories into an endless forest of animated narratives, and was exhibited at the Tate Modern in London in 2012 and 2013.
“The Treachery of Sanctuary,” currently touring the world with the ‘Digital Revolution’ exhibit, is a large-scale interactive triptych: a story of birth, death and transfiguration that uses shadows of the participants’ own bodies to unlock a new artistic language. A special installment of “The Treachery of Sanctuary” is featured at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Milk most recently has been building multiple projects with Virtual Reality as the canvas. His collaboration with Beck in January of 2013 called “Sound & Vision” represents the first live-action, fully spherical, virtual reality film. It has been exhibited in an Oculus Rift at the Future of Storytelling Summit, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, and Tribeca Film Festival.
Milk subsequently launched the Vrse app platform at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, creating the first home for premiere content in virtual reality. At the festival, Milk released “Evolution of Verse,” a photo-realistic CGI rendered3D virtual reality experience. The project represents the sheer potential of virtual reality to transport audiences to new worlds in which they feel fully present.
Milk and Within have since partnered with the United Nations, The New York Times, Nike, Vice News, NBC, Apple Music and U2 amongst others to tell extraordinary stories in virtual reality.
Milk was born and raised in Glen Cove NY, and lives in Los Angeles.