Twisted and beautiful are the worlds in Chris Cunningham’s work with which he toys and entices his audience, often luring them deeper into their own unexplored recesses. His imaginative style of weaving our familiar reality with a darkness that plunges into the erotic, supernatural, futuristic and sometimes even disturbing, truly blankets one in intrigue and incites curiosity and the need to know what lies next. Cunningham works in several mediums including film, video art, music production and photography but to those of a certain age, his music videos have always been a step ahead of the game in their creativity, ingenuity and special effects. In the 90s he transported a generation of viewers to alternative realities with videos for such artists as Aphex Twin, Portishead, Madonna and Björk to name a few. The latter’s “All is Full of Love” video struck chords and made a statement about where the video art world was headed.

Cunningham’s earlier works incorporate a pitch unsavory darkness that lies just around an unfamiliar corner like following the director down the dark alleyways of his psyche. His more recent commercial work for the likes of Telecom Italia and Gucci dabbles more with a poetic romanticism that touches on the fantastical; testament to an ever-evolving style. Whether twisted and dark, contorted and erotic, or romantic and poetic, Cunningham’s story telling captivates the spectator’s imagination so that even scenes perceived as disturbed cannot be denied audience. Despite the unknown we want to know more. He beckons us to venture further from our preconceived notions of presentation, medium and form and into his shadowed world. Cunningham now also explores live performance and music production and can be seen this June at the Sonar International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. Whether you dig his style or not, given his power to intrigue and pioneer his current live works can only be presumed arresting if not interesting at the least.

Text: Catherine Talton

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