This is a short feature on special effects artist Chris Cunningham, which was printed in the January issue of the Pebble. He is also putting on one off rare visual show at the Brighon Dome on the 19th April, which I still need to purchase my tickets for…
Spotlight Artist – Chris Cunningham
This month, our spotlight becomes even more dark and twisted when as we go on a not-so jolly journey with visionary British Director Chris Cunningham, who will soon be gracing us here in sunny Brighton to prise open our doors of perception.
Born in Reading, 1970, Cunningham ditched art school and his early sculptural and linear convulsions of robots and humans to follow his director’s dream. Originally working in the special effects departments on projects such as Spitting Image and Alien 3, it was his work on the film Judge Dread, that caught the eye of Stanley Kubrick and got Cunningham headhunted to work on his 30 year headache: A.I. Cunningham was assigned the task of designing the android David, a role which Kubrick believed could of never be portrayed by a human. But when the project was handed to Steven Spielberg to direct in 1995, Cunningham designs were abandoned as Spielberg gave the role to Haley Joel Osment. Cunningham then turned his hand to directing music videos for British bands such as Placebo and Dubstar to cut his directing teeth on.
1997 was the year that Cunning ham received critical acclaim for the music video ‘Come to Daddy’ by Aphex Twin. This twisted nightmare saw schoolchildren with Richard James’ superimposed face creating havoc in the council estate that was also used by Kubrick in scenes of A Clockwork Orange, as well as a Grandma scarily tormented by possessed demon. Despite being banned by many video stations, along with ‘Windowlicker’ it has achieved cult status and has been voted the 17th greatest music video of all time by Q magazine readers. Another Grammy nominated achievement produced in 1999 was ‘All is Full of Love’, by Bjork, where two robots embrace among a mechanical assembly, which is on permanent display at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
While still falling back on music, directing videos for the Horrors and a forthcoming single for La Roux, he has distanced himself from motion pictures after attempts to adapt William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly failed to materialise. Cunningham has more recently become a multi-disciplinary, working on his own short films and music, funding these projects which the occasional advertising assignments for Sony, Levis and Gucci. Before the rise of Youtube his films were generally hard to view, but (excitedly) Cunningham is due in April to do a very rare audio visual performance at the Brighton Dome, showcasing old and new work. Tickets are available via the Dome website, or their ticket hotline. Even for students it’s pricey at £14, but with the aid of some special guests he will show us what he does best, blowing our minds with psycho-sexual imagery that even the darkest depths of our imagination wouldn’t dare to dream.