Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's time to leave and find a place for us: Designed for 'Natural' Living

I knew it had to be Emilie Simon, even though I’d never heard that specific piece of music before. It wasn’t only the distinctive music, it was also the theme and the atmosphere of the advert that struck a chord I instantly recognised: and it wasn’t necessarily the music I recognised, it was the ‘feel’ of the world created in the advert.

The world – staged on this occasion in a Novotel hotel room – is one where lived (and lived-in) environments are shared by animals – where divides between exterior outside worlds and indoor interior worlds aren’t clearly defined – where the human body is not obvious in a context where, traditionally, he always would have been. He is not centre stage in a world of his making. The sharp, slick technology of the interiors (and the graphics used to create them) is communicating with wildlife, not with Man, and vice versa. In this world there is no anomaly in seeing deer and seals exist quite ‘naturally’, it would seem, in an interior where they should look out of context, or at least restricted and in captivity. Neither appears to be the case.

And there is a place in human imagination for this picture to be in some way believable, or at least acceptable and accessible as an image, or else the overall effect would be jarring, not serene – we would be repelled by it, and not drawn towards it.

But I could be being too uncritical. There could be an aspect in these images of appropriating wildlife to create an atmosphere or a sensation that requires human control, not only over the production of the graphics, but also over what we need ‘nature’ to do. We need it for our own comfort, reassurance, for peace of mind and, in this case, to imbue a sense of luxury. Neither nature nor technology is as slick and tidy and convenient as this… And in the case of any advert, there is a product to sell, and as impressive as some commercials can be, where capital is the agenda then what we think we see or understand from the aesthetic impact is rarely the underlying meaning, or the core intention of the producer.

Having said that, I’m not in the least surprised to hear Emilie Simon’s voice providing the soundtrack for this integrated circuitry of a world. Many of her music videos engage with the interactivity of the human body with its lived environment and living world – using the body as an interface to make contact and connection with all the natural, human, and technological factors that constitute her musical world. I wouldn’t be surprised if tigers and bears slept in her hotel bedrooms…

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