Monday, January 27, 2014

Holly Herndon, Chorus

Holly Hernon, Chorus, video still

The video for Holly Herndon’s Chorus, (2014 release by RVNG) is possibly one of the visually freshest things I have seen lately.  Directed by Akihiko Taniguchi and using a custom 3D software program it takes you into a virtual realm but it is much more then that.  It is more a reflection of the currency of this time while also being an archetypal reflection of what it is to be human. 

The video begins in a clear-lens video shot of Herndon.  She is distinct looking with her red braided hair and sky blue eyes.  The video then starts to digitize her in a transitory way, but it does not seem transformative.  It is just a sense of becoming.  The video then proceeds to take you deeper into a black space.  This space can be a number of things.  The internet, the subconscious, the void, the matrix, it is zero-gravity and black but it does not feel like a place of entrapment but more like a place of alternate possibility.

The vocals and the music of Chorus is key to the visuality or maybe this is vice versa, the visuality responds distinctly to the music.  The edits shift and punctuate in cuts and syncing that matches and converges with the song.  The music and vocals are like a broken chant but one that is in mid-air shatter versus collapse.  It sounds like vibrations going back and forth in a space that have yet to land.  Listening to the song on headphones emphasis this bouncing effect with brain massage reverb. 

As the video progresses you see workstations with computers and laptops.  It is clear that these are real desks and you get a sense of whoever it is by the clutter, the objects and the miscellaneous evidence of living and working there.  Taniguchi said he asked friends for stills of their workspaces and it is what he does to them is what makes this video so fresh to see.  The desks have a free floating formation and they have an effect on them that feels like they are preserved in some sort of gel, epoxy, plastic but it also feels like some sort of primordial ooze that is simultaneously freezing, preserving and overtaking these spaces.  The relic/preservation element of this effect makes you focus on the state of our technology and the personal implications and sites of using it.

A computer, the desk, a person sitting at a desk is a portal that lets us expand, communicate, create, connect and view.  The physically singular, flat, plane of the computer screen is made infinite in its function as portal.  Taniguchi presents these sites of this act; through one looking at their own screen, but he shows the physical-ness of this site even as it is floating, isolated and captured. 

The swirling, swiveling and rotating of these spaces in addition to what feels like glitch confetti of Japanese knick knacks gives a feeling of lightness and joy even with the stimulation of decay or entombment of the desk surfaces.  Herndon’s music also has this touch of lightness.  It feels like it is thrusting you through a traveling space and at the end, Herndon is a replicate of herself in front of her own work station but this feels natural for her to be there like this. 

Issues of technology, the body, the personal zone of creation and interaction are all topics that will continue to be discussed and doctoralized upon.  Our integration with the virtual is different then it has ever been before but this is how things always are, how they always feel.  What is brilliant and captivating about Chorus as a song and as a video is that it evokes this discord but jumps into it without answer.  It embraces, lets go and in that it shows the beauty and the possibilities of the state of living.