A Philosophical & Aesthetics Analysis
by K. Akrivos, PhD - “Geneva Jacuzzi's Casket”
(director - Chris Friend)
A digital palimpsest
Geneva Jacuzzi Casket short music video is a dive into a surrealistic universe of visual creatures and events from various artistic origins; computer generated imagery, sketches, graphics and video images, mingled with recorded scenes of human or humanoid characters. But this is not only a trip of visual gratification; a story lies beneath and expects to become legible while you travel and encounter an army of extravagant creatures from a bizarre personal phantasmagoria. It is a video adventure which not only honorably accompanies Geneva Jacuzzi Casket music, providing it with an intriguing visual narration but also it stands by itself as a remarkable video art creation.
Chris Friend, the creator of the video, leads us to a perpetual zoom in trip to a futuristic allegory; there we encounter extraterrestrial landscapes, an animated female deity called traveler, a fern plant computer, a repulsive gigantic flying microbe, inexhaustible bursts of illumination, graphic algorithms that have gone mad, a woman (Kate Shaw) processing some soil like powders, a repugnant smoking dummy mask. A human hybrid head (XYXZ-02) in a leather bag, singing, enfolded in pink and fuchsia and covered by a gorgeous digital grid veil is Kate’s alter ego.
A red wired phone headset from the 80’s, a horrific flying snake attacking a bird in a deserted mall, a wall activated by the heroine into a digital entrance to a post nuke habitat, futuristic glossy caskets and hordes of virtual saints (hive mothers) dancing among urban surroundings, medieval signs and Greek columns, flying squids, an human hologram fading into a plastic doll, strange virtual phantasms and a constant attack of color and graphics, all synchronized to the esteemed music of Geneva Jacuzzi.
We fail to apprehend the story until the 3rd or 4th view, but we early detect the heroine's puzzlement, her vital dependence on her hybrid companion, her urge to complete a peculiar task, as well as some underlying complication which instigates an unpredictable hallucination adventure.
The plethora of visuals Chris Friend creates do not appear as scenery or as a welcoming background but rather as a constant flow of fragments and entities coming towards the viewer on an overwhelming visual barrage. The viewer is dazed at this volley of visuals but he is also amazed by their extravagance and miscellany, because all these visual entities do not resemble or correspond to a singular stylistic or morphological reference. They come from different style origins and end up exploding into an extraordinary polychromy. Some visuals remind us of the VFX aesthetics and graphics of the 80’s, others look as VR games particles. Others are everyday items of the past (phone headset, neon signs) and some are composite forms of hand sketches and computer graphics. Quite often textual messages appear in a variety of modern or archaic letter fonts and symbols.
What distinctively prevails is a deliberately overwhelming and excessive use of intense colors like fashion fuchsia, fluorescent shades, extravagant colorful light gleams, intentional clipping and intense saturation. Even though the director intensively uses graphics and visuals to create an atmosphere, he equally relies on video scenes to tell his occult story. We can assume that he deliberately blends dissimilar and mismatched visual entities and items to create his bizarre personal dystopia of a distant future.
Chris Friend invites us to a totally artificial future world, bearing little or no resemblance to the existing world. Perhaps few things may look familiar to us through the imagery of video games, VFX and virtual reality games. Whatever in the computer games world and VFX, even since the 80’s, seemed to us as a delightful futuristic attraction or as an imaginative escape, Chris Friend has magnified it and pushed it to extremity. Furthermore he has mixed all these in a way that he creates an unfamiliar new blend.
It is noticeable that the future world he builds does not comply with any austere futuristic aesthetic of clean-cut avant-garde scenery or a “neat” architectural and stylistic futurism. As mentioned above many of the bits and pieces of his dystopia come from the past from memories of computer graphics from previous decades. Chris Friend does not try to conceal it. He intentionally releases layers of distinguishable fragments to form a new future reality through a process of a creative digital collage. A deliberate sketchiness and patchiness is apparent in this process.
This future world he builds, even though it contains distinguishable fragments from our collective memory of computer graphics, it still remains alien to us and to the existing world. It is inhospitable, cold and unfamiliar; it is a dystopia you would not want to inhabit. Humans have been heavily altered or turned into humanoids. The human figure has been deformed, over colorised and discoloured, digitised, wired, plasticised, decapitated. Corporeal qualities are tolerated only if linked to a technological function or purpose, as interconnectivity among biological creatures and machines has long been established.
Isn’t that world a dreadful perspective for our future? What vital space remains there for humans? Doesn’t all that extraordinary polychromy, Chris Friend virtuosically used to praise Geneva Jacuzzi music, reveal a deep pessimism? It is remarkable to see how a dark future can disguise in such a striking multicolor outfit.