British director Chris Cunningham's video for Icelandic Queen of Pop Björk's All is Full of Love (1998) remains 6 years after its release, still one of the most elegant and sophisticated examples of machine erotics.
The opening sequence takes the spectator through a dark uterine environment wrought with cables and faintly pulsating with light. The whole experience feels womb-like, voyeuristic, as if the black box of technology is about to open up. Reclining on the floor in fetal position lies a Björk robot, still in a state of semi-disassembly. The latter pose suggests an infantile helplessness, yet is simultaneously also very seductive, reminiscent of baroque paintings where damsels recline languidly on their chaises-longues in anticipation of earthy delights.
Throughout the video the tension between ethereal pure innocence - augmented by the white porcelain aesthetics of the robots - and sexual desire are played out. We follow the Björk bot as the [m]other machines, which she is umbilically attached to, tenderly nurture her into machine maturity, and set her free. The imagery concerning the latter also becomes much more suggestive and masculine as the video proceeds: pistons pumping fluids, drilling and penetrative motions.
In an interview Cunningham stated that making this video was a teenage dream come true, since he got to play with the two things he was most into as an adolescent: robots and porn. Indeed, cinematically the video draws on a lot of pornographic conventions, however, in a very covert and sophisticated way. It never reaches the level of pornography because the images are too meditated, too aestheticised, and perhaps too humanoid to become raunchy. The closing shots pull us in and out of darkness, arousing our desire in expectation of what is to come next. As the music fades and the pulsating beat becomes more dominant, we are once again drawn in the womb-like dark space, making it clear to us that we sampled a glimpse of a black-boxed kingdom.
Music: Björk, Director: Chris Cunningham, Production: Black Dog Films
Robots made by Paul Catling
(Text for DEAF04)