“That’s fucking weird,” says the girl to my left, while the guy on my right goes for the classic “Urrgh” and his friend thinly veils his discomfort behind a cackle. All are perfectly suitable responses to a twenty-foot projection of a child being sliced sternum to bowel. Chris Cunningham’s live show, it seems, is exactly what you’d expect from the warped video director mind that gave us Aphex Twin’s ‘Window Licker’ promo.
There’s plenty of rapid, skin-on-skin montage, tons of twisted mutilation and heaps of god-knows-what to look at, all while Cunningham stands beneath three giant screens that show his latest apocalyptic visions. Only it turns out that they’re not his latest visions at all, but rather a rehash of terrors gone by, despite what the show’s flyer said. Regardless, none of us can be exactly sure of what it is that he’s doing behind that MacBook of his, and few of us care – this is less a live music event, more a brutally loud screening of industrial techno cinema.
The gutted girl’s eyelids twitch to the glitch, Samantha Morton exposes her rotten squid for an intense instrumental version of The Horrors’ ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ and a naked couple punch the shit out of each other in time to machine-gun drum’n’bass. As well as being “wholly shocking” (although not shocking at all), there’s little denying that it’s exhilarating, deafening, violent video art that should tire far sooner than it does. At least it is for the people who didn’t see this “show of new material” last year at the Royal Festival Hall.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 29 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. June 2011