“Olympia” is a 1938 film by the German director Leni Riefenstahl, who is best known for producing propaganda during the Third Reich. After Adolf Hitler invited Riefenstahl to the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, she used footage from the events in addition to shots of ruins in Athens to piece together what is now a famous film. Riefestahl’s film utilized many innovative techniques for its time, like tracking and slow motion. The opening sequence to the film, which juxtaposes the great ruins of Greece and the idealized bodies of Greek sculptures with the perfectly toned (and starkly white…) bodies of athletes easily evokes the art of the Third Reich and its twisted re-interpretations of Greek ideals and “masculine” altheticism.
Of course, one cannot and should not divorce the film from the dark period that produced it. Today, the tropes of propaganda as used in this film seem almost laughable. Its patriotic track and and bizarre shots of, say, the human discus thrower, a brutally obvious connection to the Greek scultpure, seem more hilarious than enlivening. Yet, as one blogger featuring this film astutely points out, we can only understand today’s propaganda by studying that of the past and properly placing it in its historical context. I don’t intend for anyone to enjoy this film as simply “a piece of art,” completely devoid of context, but I do think that it can be studied as the result of a particular period and set of (completely misguided) values for the tropes it employs. After all, 1936 likely won’t be the last highly-advertised and bigoted Olympics….
Universal Music Japan, Lady Gaga’s Japanese record label last week uploaded a 30 second teaser video. What this film is actually advertising is quite unclear; we are shown what seems to be a bleak factory with moulds of Lady Gaga’s face and body being compressed, moulded and bolted and eventually made into a robot.
The teaser ends with the statement that: “GAGADOLL COMING SOON”. Is Gaga’s new concept that she will now become a consumable entity more than she already is? Exactly how reactive will these robots be if they can be bought by individuals? This is of course another aspect of her expansive marketing strategy but what is it exactly about Robots that is so fitting towards Gaga? What is it about advanced technology that she wants to intertwine herself with so much? How many robots will be made? What will their function be? Will these robots be made in mass or will a one off robot be made as a piece of art? The video seems to show a whole army of silicone bodies hanging in a room.
Lady Gaga is yet to make an announcement about where this footage will lead however Japan is forever associated with robot creation so it almost seems a little too obvious for Gaga to promote her music within that particular country in this manner. As Lady Gaga’s career becomes more and more extreme within pop culture the notion of her creating robots of herself hardly seems surprising especially within the context to ‘ARTPOP’. Fans have speculated that the TechHausdesign branch who recently designed her flying dress are behind this concept. TechHaus is the technical division of the Haus of Gaga founded in 2012 to create the ARTPOP app.
The video succeeds in exactly what its aimed to complete, its left us with questions about her ever growing estate. For a woman who likes to play with extremes and is fully aware of wanting to conquer various aspects of popular culture recreating a mechanical version of herself seems fitting to her progressive nature within her field as a pop musician.
You can watch the video here:
Ian Isiah’s video for his song ‘Mindfvck’ has caused much conversation about its banning from Youtube and the rules of censorship on the internet. However since its arrival online a month ago little seems to have been discussed about its outstanding originality both in its musical ability and progressive filming which takes place through this music video.
Simultaneously ambiguous as it is fulfilling to creating a strikingly progressive identity, the song and film reveals as much as it hides. The overwhelmingly sexy Isiah appears alongside performance artist boychild where they stimulate a confusing but passionate semi-sex scene. The songs title only eludes more to the perplexing narrative to the video, boychild appears truly androgynous and Isiah’s attempts to become intimate with her only confuses the structure of this video even more.
In our post-Lady Gaga world androgyny may have become more imbedded in peoples vocabularies but the playing with ones gender is still an issue which causes a colossal amount of shock, hatred and ignorance. Where the term of androgyny may have become more homogenised this video really pushes the boundaries of what many will find comfortable.Besides from boychild’s alien gender, Isiah’s muscular physique adorned in feminine crystal jewellery appears completely refreshing.
Like all historically relevant pieces of culture, anything that causes controversy does eventually prevail and it is up to us to challenge and evolve into how we can celebrate creations like this. The need to subverse ones own body image is still such a powerful tool and the way in which Isiah and boychild are doing so and then creating from this space is totally commendable. We are living in a time where the vast amount of mainstream culture is painfully mundane.
Historically recessions have created some of the most exciting areas of art and fashions become about dressing up. Until seeing this video, evidence of this concept in pop culture during this economic crisis has been hazy in comparison to the seriousness of our times, but this video seems to encapsulate exactly what we need now.
Here is Ian Isiah’s Soundcloud
‘It is 2013 now. Start as you mean to go on’
Some stills from a Short I made late 2012