Music video director projectPresentation Transcript
Music Video Director Project An investigation into the work of Chris Cunningham PT 1
About Chris Chris Cunningham is an English music video film director and video artist. He was born in Reading, Berkshire in 1970 and grew up in Lakenheath, Suffolk. After seeing Cunningham's work on the 1994 film version of Judge Dredd, Stanley Kubrick head hunted Cunningham to design and supervise animatronic tests of the central robot child character in his version of the film A.I. Cunningham worked for over a year on the film A.I., before leaving to pursue a career as a director. Earlier work in film included model making, prosthetic make-up and concept illustrations. Cunningham has had close ties to Warp Records since his first production for Autechre. Videos for Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" and "Windowlicker" are perhaps his best known. His video for Björk's "All Is Full of Love" won Multiple awards, including an MTV music video award for Breakthrough Video and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. In 2005, Cunningham released the short film Rubber Johnny as a DVD accompanied by a book of photographs and drawings. Rubber Johnny, a six-minute experimental short film cut to a soundtrack by Aphex Twin, remixed by Cunningham was shot between 2001 and 2004. Shot on DV night-vision, it was made in Cunningham's own time as a home movie of sorts, and took three and half years of weekends to complete. The Telegraph called it "like a Looney Tunes short for a generation raised on video nasties and rave music“. Cunningham has directed a handful of commercials for companies including Gucci, PlayStation, Levis, Telecom Italia, Nissan and Orange. Resource- Wikipedia
Examples of work
Visual style Upon researching Chris Cunningham’s Videos, it is clear that he uses a particular style throughout his work. I have found that he has a fascination with abnormalities such as human distortion and alienation as this can be seen in videos such as Rubber Johnny in particular. Chris also appears to have a huge amount of knowledge about technology and this can be seen in his recreation of Bjork as a robot in her music video- All is full of love, which won best special effects in a video and breakthrough video at the MTV Video Music awards in 2000. Chris has a very unusual style and it can be said that his work is prominent and recognizable throughout the industry. In comparison to many other directors, Chris is not afraid to present things which may be of offense or to the distaste of others, for example, Come to Daddy which featured children playing in a desolate housing estate, all with the face of Artist James from Aphex Twin. When first shown this video the reaction of most was shock and confusion as it is so different to many other styles seen on MTV. Recurrent themes which I noticed in Chris’ style was the use of darkness as a lot of his videos seem to convey a sense of entrapment or depression but then he also goes to the other end of the spectrum in the sense, with his use of artificial lighting, which is exaggerated in particular in Bjork’s All is full of love.
Artists Chris has worked with Filmography "Second Bad Vilbel" (1996) video for Autechre "Back With The Killer Again" (1996) video for The Auteurs "Light Aircraft on Fire" (1996) video for The Auteurs "Another Day" (1996) video for Lodestar "Space Junkie" (1996) video for Holy Barbarians "36 Degrees" (1996) video for Placebo "Personally" (1997) video for 12 Rounds "Jesus Coming in for the Kill" (1997) video for Lifes Addiction "The Next Big Thing" (1997) video for Jesus Jones "Tranquillizer" (1997) video for Geneva "No More Talk" (1997) video for Dubstar "Something To Say" (1997) video for Jocasta "Come To Daddy" (1997) video for Aphex Twin "Only You" (1998) video for Portishead "Frozen" (1998) video for Madonna "Come On My Selector" (1998) video for Square pusher "All Is Full of Love" (1999) video for Björk "Windowlicker" (1999) video for Aphex Twin "Afrika Shox" (1999) video for Leftfield and Afrika Bambaataa "Flex" (2000), using sounds created by Aphex Twin "Monkey Drummer" (2001), using "Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michaels mount" from Aphex Twin's album Drukqs "Rubber Johnny" (2005), using "Afx237 V7" from Aphex Twin's album Drukqs "Sheena Is A Parasite" (2006), video for The Horrors "New York Is Killing Me" (2010) video for Gil Scott-Heron
Genre of music Chris specializes in It is clear that Chris tends to involve himself in the more niche underground artists, possibly due to his own personal taste in music. The most common genre and most frequently worked with artist is Aphex twin which is of the electronic genre. Chris also works with a number of alternative rock artists and this is shown through his Filmography. Personal Quotes “All I ever do is talk about films and then not make them. As a result I thought: just shut up about it - make a film then talk about it when it's done. But it's got to be something that I'm absolutely frothing about. After three or four years tinkering with other people's material I came to the conclusion that I just had to develop my own material from scratch. I love anatomy. I love the human form, I always have. That's why I got into painting and sculpting, that's why I got into doing prosthetics, that's why I got into making films about bodies. But the one thing that I hadn't been able to incorporate was sound. And that was my favorite love of all. And as soon as I started doing that in film, that was it for me.”
Mainstream or underground? Chris is a very successful director who has built up a reputation for himself because of the amount of unique and interesting videos he has created. In his early career of the 90’s he produced many music videos for new artists within the music industry mainly of the rock genre. Some may say that the videos he produced for many of the bands were more than the track’s worth, but this is a way that Chris could progress in his career and have the freedom to direct videos his own way later on. It can also be said that most of the bands in his Filmography aren’t very well known to this day, possibly due to public disinterest or the fact that they would like to remain underground. However, Chris has made many TV Ads for well known companies such as Orange and Gucci and has also worked with the world famous Madonna. Although, from research I found that the majority of his work were his own personal projects or ones of which he had collaborated with Aphex twin as he enjoys this genre of music. Based on my findings I can say that Chris is not a mainstream music video director, although he has worked with many prestigious names because of his talent as an Auteur.
Stylistic influences Interview with Chris Cunningham for The Observer Written by Sean O’Hangan “He was even more obsessed with electronic music, which, he says, is all down to his dad playing him Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Tomita's Snowflakes Are Dancing when he was seven. "Those records blew my mind. They were incredible soundscapes. I immediately connected with the tones and the textures and the fact that you were entering a parallel world when you listened to them." On the wall, a grid of record sleeves maps out his voyage of discovery. They include Speak & Spell by Depeche Mode, Computer World by Kraftwerk, DAF's first album, a musique concrète compilation, and Led Zeppelin II: "'The Lemon Song' blows me away." These days, his tastes run more to Bartók, Ligeti, Varèse and Debussy.”
Editing style and narrative elements Chris is renowned for his editing style and use of technology within his work. He quotes that the use of sound is a trigger for his visual creativity and most of his ideas are stemmed from music. It is quite difficult to depict narrative within Chris’ work as he is the perfect example of a post-modern director and his use of meta-narratives comes into many of the videos produced. A good example of this is Chris’ video for Autechre-’second bad vibel’. Throughout the video it is hard to determine what is being shown and into what context it fits with the music. The mise-en-scene becomes blurry and we continuously find ourselves squinting at the screen to focus on the images being shown. It can be said in this respect that we are creating our own definition for the story as we are constantly trying to figure out the puzzle pieces of imagery. What we can tell about the video however, is that the music influences our idea of the emotion and narrative corresponding to the visuals that can be depicted. From what I have seen of the video I have built my own narrative of a sci-fi story featuring aliens and robots, and feel that the video try’s to conceal these identities like stories from Roswell and area 51.
Why I like his work I think Chris Cunningham is a brilliant director and an Auteur in his own right because he is so unique in his work. He is a good example of someone in the industry who represents the directing of music videos to be of the art form and not just plainly promoting the artist. I like the fact that in all his videos he leaves a trace of his own imagination into my thoughts as I am constantly wondering, how did he do this? Or why did he do it? Chris Cunningham also represents underground music and made people more aware of the different variations of music available to audiences. Before watching his video- Rubber Johnny for the first time, I had never heard of Aphex twin before and probably wouldn’t have found out about them, had Chris not made this genre of music so available through the media (MTV etc.) The main reason why I like his work however, is the amazing amount of detail put into his videos such as his editing use and natural flare with technology. When producing my own music video for the creative project I would like to try using some of his editing techniques into my own work to try and accomplish something as influential as what Chris can produce, time and time again.