Expand Your Palette — Michel Gondry Musings

I never intended for this blog to center around music videos, but I have increasingly found that this short medium is the best example of movement-based art with the potential to reach a wide audience. Advertising does it too, but music videos tend to take larger risks and can be made on a teeny or humongous budget. It’s also the partering of artists, I guess, that enables more interesting work to happen there.

A couple days ago I bought Michel Gondry DVD from the Director’s Label, among other reasons because the Spike Jonze DVD from the same series included an ad for it and because Spike refers repeatedly to his admiration for Michel Gondry. He cites Michel’s habit of conquering a major technical feat in each project, basically pioneering methods for new film techniques. It’s an inspiring anecdote. One of the interviewees on the DVD mentioned that filming with Michel Gondry was like a ritual, that it didn’t feel like other sets. I don’t have much more detail than than but I certainly like the idea…

I have never been on a set where a truly inspired piece of art is underway, but I frequently imagine the sort of language required to communicate difficult concepts, particularly in movement. I did the Nia teacher training because they’d managed to convey abstract movement to many, many non-dancer women over 40 and that is a beautiful thing.

What I wanted to get to regarding Michel Gondry is that some of his videos are sort of…unwatchable. There’s exciting things happening, but perhaps a few too many exciting things. Unless the music-video-watcher is an avid Björk fan I find it hard to imagine that the average television viewer would stay for its entirety. If only he were a little more patient with the average viewer–keep the central themes a little cleaner (moths? car chase? airplanes in lightbulbs, water in a piano? children looking through mirrors? cockroaches on a city map? Björk inside an eyeball?). It’s a mess of images, yes, beautiful brilliant images, and lots to decode with care, but care is not at the forefront of most viewers’ minds.

How can we expand the palette of the average viewer? I want to cultivate a love of that sort of stop-start imagery, the quiet forest-crawling intimacy that is always there, but I want to share a story that can have words in ppls’ heads. Perhaps this is just reinforcing the fact that, as much as I love working with images, I am a literal/verbal thinker and I want a narrative the avg viewer can take away.


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