Chris Cunningham: jaqapparatus 1
From his formative years sculpting alien heads to his recent "jaqapparatus 1" robotic performance-art installation, seminal music video director-turned-artist Chris Cunningham retraces his varied and critically acclaimed career in this personal, self-directed short.
One of an elite group of directors alongside Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Jonathan Glazer who redefined MTV in the 1990s, Cunningham elevated the pop promo to a burgeoning art form with daring and disturbing music videos for the likes of Aphex Twin, Björk and Madonna. While his peers graduated to the big screen, Cunningham went underground, quit making promos and commercials, and spent the best part of a decade experimenting with fusions of film, music, art and technology that culminated in a string of live audio-visual performances at festivals in Japan and Europe. For "jaqapparatus 1", his first installation unveiled last month at the Audi City London high-tech concept store—a shadowy, sci-fi set involving two laser-firing robots locked in what seemed like a brutal mating ritual-cum-war—Cunningham cast two Talos motion-controlled camera rigs as his anthropomorphized protagonists. “Mounted on the robots heads are powerful lasers which they use to attack, repel and communicate with each other,” explains Cunningham, “a kind of duel, a surreal mating display which sees each machine trying to dominate the other.”