Spike Jonze has returned to the TV commercial world with a BANG reminiscent of his famous music video for “Weapon of Choice” / Fatboy Slim. In this rendition, a young woman leaves a posh and boring gala to dance her way through the hallowed halls of a high-ceilinged corporate lobby. The video features an impressive mind trick with mirrors, and choreography by the now famous but little name-dropped Ryan Heffington, who choreographed the dance for “Chandelier” / Sia’s music video, amongst many other famous performances.

The part that my colleagues seem most agog at are the moments where the camera pans directly into mirrors, and yet there is no camera reflected.

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There was speculation that the mirror trick was achieved in the same way that the transparent body parts trick was achieved in the “Wide Open” / Chemical Brothers music video.

Although it’s possible that they used this sort of technology, my sense is that this situation did not call for such a thorough recreation of reality. The surface of the mirror flattens space, and the clips where the trick occurs in the commercial are relatively short. I think that the production team could have gotten away with masking the camera simply by using subtly distorting 2D images, or using simple parallax effects or spacial tracking images in After Effects. It seems to me that this would work just as well in this situation, rather than spending the time and energy to create a new 3D rendering of the space.

Choreography

I had known about Ryan Heffington from his work before Sia, and immediately recognized his style when the music video came out– his choreography is truly an original voice in pop culture, coming from a place of artistry and everyday motion (much like Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker‘s work, which explored the art and meaning of every day movement).

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It’s fascinating to hear his monologue explaining his choreography (to Chandelier) below. It’s apparent that he focuses on metaphor and truly uses dance as a language of expression, beyond the boundaries of traditional terminology and elements. All of this serves the Jonze commercial just as well, combining two masters of their craft for a spellbinding, bombastic video!

Link to the Past

Many have made the comparison between this commercial and Jonze’s well known music video “Weapon of Choice” / Fatboy Slim.

The aesthetic parallels are striking, from the environment to the costume, to the incorporation of dance and of course, FLIGHT.

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However, it is a little simplistic to say it’s an imitation. The purpose and narrative are different. The dancers and choreography are different. For lack of a better word, the spirit and attitude of the videos is very different. Any artist in their lifetime will revisit old works. It’s unlikely that after one exploration– one painting, or one sculpture, one performance, that an artist will uncover all of the truths they were seeking in one shot. That’s why you see so many Jackson Pollack works that look similar, or Picasso’s prolific portfolio. Mastery requires work, just like a beautiful instagram selfie takes many tries to perfect, or the photograph displayed across a billboard took many hours to design, shoot, and photoshop– Art is a process, creativity is a journey, and it’s wonderful to see brands like Kenzo World enabling the great artists of our generation to do what they do best.

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From the Kenzo website– this statement seems to be the singular inspiration for the video:

“THE EYE IS BOTH FEMININE AND POWERFUL AT THE SAME TIME”

— Carol Lim & Humberto Leon