Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lady Gaga...Mathew Barney...Chris Cunningham

Sidney and Sydney recently posted the latest Lady Gaga video. It's definitely a visually attractive montage, and a high energy song per usual gaga. But other than its potent eye candy feel and catchy sound, I'm not sure it goes much further than a variety of luscious cliches, upgraded by all the latest glitzing tech (which are real nice! I admit, and an art in and of itself). It's pretty digestable and I suspect that people find just the right tolerable amount of edge in her. She seems to be at peak popularity these days. I'd like to hear more in depth critique of this video--and just generally about her persona as a a pop star - from some of you, actually. There are some interesting precedents to her imagery, also, in particular the figures/styles of many of the characters in Matthew Barney's Cremaster films. Here's a little sample of that.

and also, I think you get that same fantastical, beautiful, and sometimes disgusting feel in Chris Cunningham's work, like for example this now classic video for Aphex Twin's Windowlicker. Highly entertaining (IMO) all the way through to see the imagery which I'm talking about.
BTW, 280, "This is The Flow" contains an essay about Chris Cunningham and in particular discusses this video. I think it will interest you even more after you watch this.


Hannah said...

That second movie was horrifying. First off, the objectification of women by the two men in the first 5 minutes or so was pretty funny; a joust at culture of today. And then when the women turned into half-men half-women, I wanted to both turn away and keep watching. I think it was the choice of music that kept me wanting to watch.
This video is so amazing, even as scary as it is. The faces of the "women" were terrifying but at the same time their bodies were attractive. I think it gets to a great point of objectifying women in particular.
All I could think of when I was watching the last half of this movie was how much all of those women looked like goblins. It is really well done, use of music too keep the audience intrigued, but also the images. They were so conflicting, I wanted to see if they would ever be resolved.

Excaliborn7 said...

Ugliness and grotesqueness yes, but also gorgeous and weirdly celebratory. Definitely a very oddly sexual piece. The male figure whose head resides on the female bodies is Aphex Twin himself. The video was created particularly for this song, Windowlicker, so not a choice of music, but an artful visual arc/concept applied directly to it.

Matt B said...

Looking further into Chris Cunningham's work their is a lot of play on physical form, and turning that form into something intriguing. I say strange because at first in the Windowlicker video the images presented were absolutely terrifying. Moving beyond that though, their is a lot of humor involved as well. The video is a satire on the objectification of women in pop-culture but it also shows how women themselves allows this objectification to happen. The transformation of the faces shows the still highly sexualized figures that willingly took on characteristics of the man (i.e vanity, greed)

Chris Cunningham's other works (being enlightened by This is the Flow) such as All is Full of Love and Come to Daddy play a lot on physical form as well but still present a point. I say this in comparison to Lady Gaga's videos which present a similar style of rhythmic cinematography and outlandish visuals. However Chris Cunningham does more than use this style as "eye candy" for the viewer.

On that note I have no more to say other than that i have been sufficiently weirded out for the day.

Julie said...

Although there were a lot of things that struck me about both films, Windowlicker really captivated my attention. The character development, which initially builds on familiar stereotypes, only to dissolve each actor into an uncanny ghost of themselves reminded me of the IB area shorts that 280 watched, and also real versus imagined social identity. As a final thought, the moment that stands out the most to me was when the women/men are "talking" to the men through the roof of the limo. I thought that the video "dialogue" was a perfect compliment to the instrumental dialogue at that moment.
p.s. who's excited for beyonce and gaga collaboration video?

Excaliborn7 said...

just a note: the matthew barney cremaster clip is only a trailer from the series. the actual series was 5 feature length films all interwoven in a complex symbolic system titled after the cremaster gland in males. watching any of these complete films would be a much different experience then this trailer, which just includes a bunch of random shots from the project.

Fried Catfish said...

I agree with Excaliborn7 - the trailer doesn't give much representation of the actual Cremaster Cycles (of which I barely made it through 3 or 4 - I hated it). When I saw the new Lady Gaga video, I immediately thought of Matthew Barney, and in a good way! GREAT video. I am convinced that Lady Gaga will continue to assert herself as a true artist and quite separate from the cadre of pop tartlets.

Karys said...

I saw the first 30 seconds of the new Lady Gaga video and couldn't believe how much like Matthew Barney's work it was. So much so I googled the two names immediately to see if he had a part in it, or whether anyone else had thought so. So I was VERY glad to find I wasn't the only one!