Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What Lies Beneath: The Rapture "Pieces of the People We Love"

The Rapture take minimalistic cues from "My Love" and drop a hot video about the influential presence of others in each individual's composition...

The Rapture "Pieces of the People We Love"

dir. by Ben Dickinson & Jon Watts

"I can't hold you tomorrow, but I hold you in my heart"

As the The Rapture emerge from the dark shadows of an early scene in "Pieces of the People We Love", a number of faceless folks jump in to add the finishing touches to the band's appearance. They extenuate eyes and blush cheeks, but more importantly they establish the primary conceit of the video. There are many whom we keep within our hearts and minds who often go unseen, but are nevertheless essential to our unique make-up. We are defined as individuals only under the light of these people who shape us.

Thus the video begins in the shade, with drummer Vito Roccoforte pounding away under a lonely chandelier. Yet as the vocals spring out of the track, the light turns on and the shadows shift across the floor. In the same way that the words and voice of the singer add different textures to the song, the song itself augments the definition of the band members. Lead singer Luke Jenner, who co-founded the band with Roccoforte, pulls himself out of the drums in the shot that follows. In a later shot a guitarist digs into the shadows of himself to find an instrument - music is a connective force that lives both within and outside of ourselves as an expression of individuality and a reminder of unity.

Yet the imposition of wealth and fame is often lambasted by fans and the music community as an inevitable sign of disconnect from those "pieces" in our past and present. Thus the opulence of the chandelier, champagne and blinding flood lights (which remove all shadows) are intentionally highlighted in the video. The Rapture challenge that their "intentions are untrue" and instead reflect on the ability of their craft to keep them grounded and connected to their inner selves.

One can read this in combination with the overall aesthetic of the work as a comment on some other recent mainstream videos. But apart from a near matching color scheme, The Rapture include similarly dressed female dancers, a T.I.-like couch scene and a general theme of performance that make a straight-critique reading difficult. Instead they seem to point out an inner need to be recognized, that is just another facet of ourselves. At one point a band member pops out of his own dark cave dressed in a shiny reflective suit - recalling the imagery of the initial chandelier and suggesting an up-side to letting your light shine.

In this way the video doesn't limit the "pieces" simply to loved ones or outside influences, many times band members represent themselves in different forms or costumes. Making this distinction isn't entirely necessary, since in a way everyone who has inspired or touched your life exists as part of you anyway, but it helps to understand the fluidity between the distinctive person and all those who inspire them. Thus each of the characters in the video, from one perspective, is part of the same person.

When Jenner makes this realization in the climax of the song his shadow abruptly decreases in size. He has been humbled by the overwhelming presence of his loved ones in his own internal composition. And when he stands in front of all these influential people in the next shot, he looks tiny and almost disappears into the image. Suddenly he is simply a collage of his pieces, rather than the solitary "superstar" image developed elsewhere in the video.

But the artist, and any person who expresses themselves, is more than the sum of her or his parts. Ironically it first takes a concerted effort to recognize the impact of others in your life in order to then understand the inherent value of your own voice. In a subsequent shot Jenner's shadow increases in size once more - now bigger than ever. It is knowing who is behind you, or within you, that gives you the confidence to succeed. As the video closes the final emphasis is put on the shadow that follows us forever; not as an annoyance, but as an essential push forward.

No comments:

Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie