Thursday, 11 March 2010

Bug 18....

...I got the opportunity to go and see the Adam Buxton hosted, Bug, for only the second time tonight. Like the first, it was a rambling, funny, cringe worthy and altogether learned evening, trawling music videos, ads and internet phenomena for all the wrong and right reasons.

There was also a live interview with Sean Pecknold, that whilst interesting, was somewhat stifled by the music director's inability to maintain a decent conversation. He seemed so introverted that it was only Buxton who could draw any fact and humour from it.

There are many videos from tonight's show that I liked. This for example. And this. And this. But I am going to end this post on one that I seem to have gained a particular dislike for:

OK GO, 'This too shall pass'

Now this video has got my back up a bit. Watch it all and you might be amazed, joyous, wonder struck, tickled pink. Find out that it was, (more or less), shot in one take, then you might be more so. This music video has proved an internet phenomenon, passing from email to email, screen to screen. But what gets me is not it's artistic merit - for there is a lot of hard work in this. Not it's undoubted positivity, because many will watch with a smile. But it is the hugely unoriginal idea behind this video. It is a well trodden one too and it seems to me they haven't been so gracious as to acknowledge it. Preceding this, was in 2003, the Honda 'Cog' ad from creatives at Wieden + Kennedy.

This ad won a host of awards. Perhaps rightly so, (for its execution), but I was annoyed even then, as I had seen this idea before. It was stolen. A fraud. My art school education had paid off in one small way - I had been shown a video of artist duo Fischli & Weiss, from 1987 called 'The way things go'. In one take, household parts, flora & fauna were set up to create one larger, sprawling continuous machine. It was a less polished 'Cog' - but only because it didn't exist in adland.

Anyone who watched the Honda ad, and new about the above video would be lying if they didn't admit the incredible similarities. But then, Fischli & Weiss weren't entirely original themselves. Whilst they were the first to create such a chain reaction for real and in a live setting, they based their work of art on the American cartoonist Rube Golderg. His cartoons depicted the accomplishment of something simple through a complex means. In fact his name became a dictionary based adjective for exactly that.

Maybe, all this proves something that I already knew, but daren't admit in my fury. Nothing is original. But the best works of art, the best ads, films, music and so on, succeed by using an existing, celebrated idea and putting a new twist on it. OK GO's video only scrapes in to this category in my view, the uplifting nature securing it a place. But, I guess that's enough. Now just watch the awards roll in.

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