Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Parallel Worlds

I have observed fashion, styling, art directing, film, literature, graphic design and popular art, so to say, the components that define popular culture, for about five to six years with close attention. Its the one thing that I always do, consciously and subconsciously. Reading online, browsing websites, looking at trends in magazines, in graphic design, fashion design, going out of the way to get independent as well as mainstream films, from the past and present, running through the list of the most influential works of cinema in history, to music from rock to a bit of rap to mainstream pop, this has been my activity every waking second of my life. Most times, I cannot help but be immersed in it. But also many times I lead myself into it, because I love observing the culture and the ways of people in imagining and creating and influencing.

More and more I have come to recognize that the components that form popular culture are like parallel worlds. They exist in themselves but they are all interdependent and bounce ideas between each other.

When Black Swan came out, the style was quite interesting and new. Serif typography (some promo posters used Gotham-style type), dark ballet fashion, desaturated colours, and bold shadows, play with mirrors and reflection, classical music, these were some things that I spotted in use in the movie. Then I realized that the fashion world had taken the concept up by storm too. I can't say who did it first, but McQueen was also doing the feathers, and dreamy colours, photoshoots were happening in ballet training halls using the mirror for drama, Natalie Portman was promoting styling brands that could help you acheive the look that she had in the film, Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky was all the rage in the classical theatre again.

To me it is amazing how a concept well realized in one art form can take on the world by storm like that.

Another small example is when Inception came out, the whole idea was pretty new too. Few months later, Marion Cotillard was doing photoshoots for Christian Dior with similar dreamlike colour and concept. Not a rip off, but a nod of appreciation and borrowing of ideas to play with audience's familiarity.

In the 60s French New Wave cinema (that is influencing the hipster movement in New York and Europe till now) were influenced by the then contemporary school of thought that took pride in the independence of the young and the boundless. The Swinging Sixties in London took on the same ideology. In turn, people like Jean Luc Godard (a French New Wave director) influenced actresses like Jane Birkin, Chantal Goya (with her French ye-ye pop career that still influences the bohemian kids in urban cities), Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg and so on, and in turn they have influenced the contemporary style icons like Alexa Chung and Lou Dillon who now stand for the free spirited young. This also influenced directors like Wong Kar Wai in Hong Kong who in turn inspired a whole new generation of liberated many Asian young to create more works of art and films. And this is in no way a comprehensive list. They are just examples on top of my head. You can probably write a book-long thesis on lists of influences from the past to the present.

They are just a few examples to establish my point that all forms of art are very much interlinked and borrow from each other. And unabashedly. There is no need to apologize or to go out of the way to acknowledge the source of influence. All art and culture is shared. No one owns it. Its an open mine that is open for all to take from and add to.

Parallel worlds, they are. All forms and components stand side by side, looking at each other, admiring each other, jealous of each other, stealing from each other, complimenting each other, and in doing so, building each other up. Some things come, some things go, and because of that today does not look and feel like yesterday, and tomorrow will never be like today.



Gracelia said...

In the end all things concludes in oneness. Very cool stuff bro, keep on going!

OH BEN! said...

Thanks Lia.