Blackened puppets: Chris Cunningham's weird anatomies

Lockwood, Dean (2017) Blackened puppets: Chris Cunningham's weird anatomies. In: Music/video: histories, aesthetics, media. Bloomsbury, London, UK, pp. 195-207. ISBN 9781501313905

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Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive


In this chapter, I suggest that music videos constitute moving bodies – puppets – which in turn have the power to move viewers, in fact to enlist their viewers into a process of metamorphosis. My focus is the work of the director, Chris Cunningham, who has demonstrated a particular propensity for affectively gripping audiences with a mixing table aesthetic which promotes a synaesthetic mutuality of music and image. This auteur’s videos, I claim, experimentally explore a kind of sonic anatomy. They flesh out the music that inspires them as humanly impossible puppet-bodies which promise either to rapturously seduce or disquietingly undo those exposed to them. In relation to the former, I begin by reflecting upon Cunningham’s video for Björk’s 'All is Full of Love' (1999). I then move on to discuss the more horrific mutational potential of his 2005 video, 'Rubber Johnny'. Ultimately, I propose, the director can himself be considered a puppet, inevitably strung to the dark and alien materiality of his medium, ceding auteurship to the weird, fracturing power of mediation itself.

Keywords:music video, affect, auteurism, mediation, the weird, aesthetics
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:30471
Deposited On:09 Mar 2018 16:15

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