Alongside Michael Gondry and Spike Jonze, one of the most creative directors to emerge from the 90s boom in music videos is Chris Cunningham. Now he is moving into live performance with a live art, music and visual feast that is currently touring the UK.
Originally starting his film career doing animatronics and FX for directors including Kubrick, he quickly moved into directing, finding a niche as the go to man for weird and wonderful ideas. Where Gondry and Jonze showed their own skewed child like take on life, Cunningham offered a darker take on the genre. Working alongside artists such as Bjork, Aphex Twin, The Horrors, Portishead, Leftfield, Placebo and Squarepusher he defined a visual style that sits somewhere between dystopian future and gothic ambience. Like his contemporaries his influences come form his childhood in the form of comic books, toys, horror and sci-fi movies, but are a lot more mature in his themes and approaches. Utterly haunting, his timeless visuals bring a warmth and humanity to often cold and austere electronic and rock music.
His “Come to daddy” and “Window licker” videos for Aphex Twin and “All is full of love” for Bjork are classics of the music video genre and landed Cunningham high profile jobs directing videos and ads for the likes of Gucci, Madonna, Levi’s, Orange and Playstation.
Although, despite this success he has never been able to get a movie project off the ground (he was attached to the film adaptation of William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” for years… but it eventually fell through). I’m amazed he hasn’t been offered a superhero movie yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
Outside of directing Cunningham has pursued several other artistic endevours. He is an in-demand photographer, creating fashion shoots for magazines including Dazed and Confused and Vice, he has also created several video art installations and sculptures which have been shown at The Royal Academy Of Arts and The Barbican in London, as well as the Venice Bienalle, and in recent years he has also moved into creating music, producing “Primary Colours” for the Horrors and creating his own projects.
So in 2005 he naturally decided to bring all these elements of his career together in a special 45 minute audio visual piece performed live in Tokyo and Osaka in front of 30,000+ fans at Japan’s premier electronic music event Electraglide. It was a huge success and over the years he has refined this into a full performance art piece which combines original and remixed music and film dynamically edited together with a stunning light show into a new multi screen audio visual experience.
Chris Cunning Live is currently on tour round the UK and beyond. He will be at the Ether festival at London’s South Bank this week, but if he is visiting your city don’t miss this stunning show.