02 November, 2013

Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix) by James Murphy

Since we launched Love In The Margins I've been ignoring you shamelessly. It's the nature of the new, I'm afraid. When I saw this, the best of Bowie's recent videos, I had to come back. Bowie is claiming production costs ran 13 bucks. I'm assuming he paid the crew a bit more than that. Either way it's still an exceptional piece. Bowie's using the projection technique of his Where Are We Now video to create an aged version of his deceptively youthful physical self. It lends him a vulnerable frailty that he may (or may not) feel despite our perception of him as ageless.

Our setting is ambiguous. Backstage at a show? In hospital? A well appointed storage section of the office? There is a physical Bowie, a projected Bowie, a puppet Bowie (or two or three) and our own experience of Bowie blended into the work. Instantly recognizable aspects of his career are set into conflict (or collusion?) while the physical Bowie observes at a remove. Like all of Bowie's best work, the images lend themselves to multiple interpretations.

Someone is dying. Is the aged Pierrot the fearful witness or the diabolical ringleader? The juxtaposition of wooden and human hands against each other offer eerie suggestions of who the perpetrator is. Have they killed the physical Bowie or has he simply abandoned them yet again? The king of reinvention discarding these more recent personas the way he closed the door on The Man Who Sold The World and Aladdin Sane? Or is the physical Bowie musing on what these reinventions have cost him through the years? Has he divided himself beyond recognition until he is trapped and wrestling with the cost?

The final scene is meant to disturb but not to define. Has physical Bowie simply walked away from them, and therefore from us? Is The Next Day the final chapter in a decades long dance of imagery? Has Bowie washed his hands of us all?

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