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Chris Cunningham
Born October 15, 1970 (1970-10-15) (age 39)
Origin Reading, UK
Occupations Film maker, video artist, photographer, producer
Years active 1996–present

Chris Cunningham is an English music video film director and video artist. He was born in Reading, Berkshire in 1970 and grew up in Lakenheath, Suffolk.

The video collection The Work of Director Chris Cunningham was released in November 2004 as part of the Directors Label set. This DVD includes selected highlights from 1995–2000.

Contents

Early work

After seeing Cunningham's work on the 1994 film version Judge Dredd, Stanley Kubrick head hunted Cunningham[1] to design and supervise animatronic tests of the central robot child character in his version of the film A.I. Cunningham worked for over a year on the film A.I., before leaving to pursue a career as a director.

Earlier work in film included model making, prosthetic make-up and concept illustrations for Hardware and Dust Devil with director Richard Stanley, as well as Nightbreed. In 1990–1992 he contributed the occasional cover painting and strip for Judge Dredd Megazine, working under the pseudonym Chris Halls, the surname of his stepfather.[2]

Music videos

Cunningham has had close ties to Warp Records since his first production for Autechre. Videos for Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" and "Windowlicker" are perhaps his best known. His video for Björk's "All Is Full of Love" won multiple awards, including an MTV music video award for Breakthrough Video and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. It was also the first ever music video to win a Gold Pencil at the D&AD Awards. It can still be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His video for Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" was nominated for the "Best Video" award at the Brit Awards 2000. He also directed Madonna's "Frozen" video.

Video art

His video installation Flex was first shown in 2000 at the Royal Academy of Arts, and subsequently at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery and other art galleries. Flex was commissioned by the Anthony d'Offay Gallery for the Apocalypse: Beauty & Horror in Contemporary Art exhibition curated by Norman Rosenthal and Max Wigram at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2000.

The Anthony d'Offay Gallery also commissioned Monkey Drummer, a 2 1/2 minute piece intended for exhibition as a companion to Flex at the 2000 Apocalypse exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, however the piece was not finished in time. In it an automaton with nine appendages and the head of a monkey plays the drums to "Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michaels Mount", the 10th track on Aphex Twin's 2001 album drukqs. Monkey Drummer debuted as part of Cunningham's installation at the 49th International Exhibition of Art at the 2001 Venice Bienalle, which consisted of a loop of Monkey Drummer, Flex, and his video for Björk's "All Is Full of Love".[3]

In 2008, an excerpt from Flex was shown in the Barbican's exhibition Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now curated by Martin Kemp, Marina Wallace and Joanne Bernstein. alongside other pieces by Bacon, Klimt, Rembrandt, Rodin and Picasso.[4]

Short films

In 2005, Cunningham released the short film Rubber Johnny as a DVD accompanied by a book of photographs and drawings. Rubber Johnny, a six-minute experimental short film cut to a soundtrack by Aphex Twin, remixed by Cunningham was shot between 2001 and 2004. Shot on DV night-vision, it was made in Cunningham's own time as a home movie of sorts, and took three and half years of weekends to complete. The Telegraph called it "like a Looney Tunes short for a generation raised on video nasties and rave music".[5]

During this period Cunningham also made another short film for Warp Films, Spectral Musicians, which remains unreleased. The short film was edited to music by Squarepusher, My Fucking Sound, from the album Go Plastic and a piece called Mutilation Colony,[6] which was written especially for the short and was released on the EP Do You Know Squarepusher.

Commercials

Cunningham has directed a handful of commercials for companies including Gucci, PlayStation, Levis, Telecom Italia, Nissan and Orange.

Music production

In 2004/2005, Cunningham took a sabbatical from filmmaking to learn about music production and recording and develop his own music projects.

In December 2007 Cunningham produced two tracks, "Three Decades" and "Primary Colours", for Primary Colours, the second album by The Horrors.[7] In the summer of 2008, due to scheduling conflicts with his feature film script writing he couldn't work on the rest of the album which was subsequently recorded by Geoff Barrow from Portishead.

In 2008, he produced and arranged a new version of 'I Feel Love' for the Gucci commercial that he also directed. He travelled to Nashville to work with Donna Summer to record a brand new vocal for it.[8]

Chris Cunningham Live

In 2005, Cunningham played a 45 minute audio visual piece performed live in Tokyo and Osaka in front of 30,000+ fans over the two nights at Japan’s premier electronic music event Electraglide. These performances evolved into Chris Cunningham Live, a 55 minute long performance piece combining original and remixed music and film. It features remixed, unreleased and brand new videos and music dynamically edited together into a new live piece spread over three screens. The sound accompanying these images includes Cunningham’s first publicly performed compositions interspersed with his remixes of other artist’s work. Chris Cunningham Live debuted as one of the headline attractions at Warp 20 in Paris on May 8, 2009 with other performances scheduled at festivals in UK, and a number of European cities later in the year.

Photography

Cunningham has created photography and cover artwork for various people including Bjork's "All Is Full of Love", Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" and "Come to Daddy".

In 2008, Cunningham produced a fashion shoot for Dazed & Confused using Grace Jones as a model to create "Nubian versions" of Rubber Johnny.[9] In an interview for BBC's "The Culture Show", it was suggested that the collaboration may expand into a video project.[10]

In November 2008, Cunningham followed on with another photoshoot for Vice Magazine.[11]

Neuromancer

In 2000, Cunningham and cyberpunk author William Gibson began work on the script for Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer. However, because Neuromancer was due to be a big budget studio film, it is rumoured that Cunningham pulled out due to being a first time director without final cut approval.[citation needed] He also felt that too much of the original book's ideas had been cannibalised by other recent films.[citation needed]

On November 18, 2004, in the FAQ on the William Gibson Board, Gibson was asked:

Q: Is it true there's a movie of Neuromancer in the works?

A: Perpetually, it seems, and going on a quarter of a century now. The most recently rumoured version, to have been directed by Chris Cunningham, is now definitely not happening.[12]

In an August 1999 Spike Magazine interview, Gibson stated "He (Chris) was brought to my attention by someone else. We were told, third-hand, that he was extremely chary of the Hollywood process, and wouldn't return calls. But someone else told us that Neuromancer had been his Wind In The Willows, that he'd read it when he was a kid. I went to London and we met." Gibson is also quoted in the article as saying "Chris is my own 100 per cent personal choice...My only choice. The only person I've met who I thought might have a hope in hell of doing it right. I went back to see him in London just after he'd finished the Bjork video, and I sat on a couch beside this dead sex little Bjork robot, except it was wearing Aphex Twin's head. We talked."[13]

It is rumoured that the character of Damien Pease in Gibson's 2003 novel Pattern Recognition was based on Cunningham, with the character's apartment featuring a female robot which had appeared in one of Cunningham's videos.

Development funding was in place for Cunningham to direct and co-write his first feature film for Warp Films, with whom Chris was at the time committed to "for all future full-length film projects." He has since left Warp Films to set up his own production company 'CC Co' to produce his films independently.

Filmography

References

  1. ^ "Dazed & Confused — Interview with Chris Cunningham". Director-file.com. http://www.director-file.com/cunningham/pr06.html. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  2. ^ "droid zone". 2000AD Online. http://www.2000adonline.com/?zone=droid&page=profiles&choice=CHRISH. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  3. ^ http://www.director-file.com/cunningham/monkey.html
  4. ^ "Seduced, Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now — The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia". Artandpopularculture.com. 2009-07-18. http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Seduced,_Art_and_Sex_from_Antiquity_to_Now. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  5. ^ Campion, Chris (28 May 2005). "Cheap but never cheerful". Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3642759/Cheap-but-never-cheerful.html. 
  6. ^ 13:06 (2004-03-03). "Squarepusher interview — erutufon". nofuture. http://www.no-future.com/erutufon/showthread.php?t=7237. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  7. ^ Kharas, Kev (14 March 2008). "Chris Cunningham to make production debut on new Horrors album". Drowned in Sound. http://drownedinsound.com/news/3050246. 
  8. ^ Whelan, Stephen (15 April 2009). "Chris Cunningham Feels Love for Gucci's Flora". Dazed Digital. http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/2978/1/. 
  9. ^ "Grace Jones photoshoot for Dazed and Confused". Dazeddigital.com. http://www.dazeddigital.com/ArtsAndCulture/article/1273/1/Chris_Cunningham_Photographs_Grace_Jones_for_DC. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  10. ^ "Grace Jones Culture Show interview which covers the D&C shoot". Youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=las_RQI5pn4. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  11. ^ "Chris Cunningham Photoshoot for Vice Magazine". Viceland.com. http://www.viceland.com/int/v15n10/htdocs/chris-cunningham-137.php. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  12. ^ "Here's the FAQ — Topic Powered by Eve Community". Williamgibsonboard.com. http://williamgibsonboard.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/273109857/m/624109857. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  13. ^ "William Gibson : All Tomorrow’s Parties : Waiting For The Man". Spikemagazine.com. 1999-02-22. http://www.spikemagazine.com/0899williamgibson.php. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 

External links

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