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North London V-tard splicing beauty to the beats

V&A LATE – OCT 31

Cybersonica took over the V&A for one of their popular French Connection V&A Late nights on October 31st, showcasing a spectacular array of electronic and interactive art installations and performances. I would have uploaded this footage sooner but I’ve been down in Brighton for a week with Cybersonica and 15 incredible artists (more on this later) so cut me some slack, yeah? As you can see we’re mainly performing for smirters and deserters. Thanks to all the people who approached us to chat and ask questions about the piece and the roaming projection project.

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Shape On Top

Taking cues from Corbusier’s concepts of the ‘Poéme Électronique’ and the nomadic mural, Ed Firth and Shaun O’Connor present Shape On Top, a performed roaming video installation examining the influence of the cold war on self-image. As the Cold War Modern exhibition demonstrates; cultural trends in the shadow of the ongoing rivalry between the US and the USSR were affected and cultivated by the paranoia and competition that permeated everyday life through product design, high fashion and architectural concepts.

It was not unusual for designs to take on a military-industrial look, resembling hi-tech weaponry or gadgets for espionage. Fashion began to resemble futuristic space travel uniforms, and architecture grew strong, dependable and hulking, vast bunkers or smooth geodesic domes to protect their inhabitants from a nuclear blast. The imagery in Shape On Top explores the possibility of a link between all of these elements; the domed protective shape of perm hairstyles, echoic of both geodesic domes and the sinister motif of the atomic mushroom cloud, a chic modern image created around a structured hair design much like a helmet, following the ideal of the ‘monocoque’ or single-piece shell, which was an influential trend in furniture and houseware design.

With the benefits of new technology, it seemed as though any material could be as malleable as clay, and from this sense of liberation and convenience came a fresh, futuristic glamour a million years away from communism’s rejection of capitalist values, and of the attainment of individuality and identity through consumption.

“The internet is one of the many modern technologies to have come out of the Cold War so it only seemed appropriate to use YouTube videos for this piece. That the liberation of information sharing came out of such globally threatening hostilities is weird;- how should you feel about that? The doublespeak in the perm ad is hilarious – “it’s the perm that doesn’t show”? I beg to differ! As for the mushroom cloud, it’s a time-worn image but no less scary for it, and the similarities between the aesthetics of the two clips were just uncanny.”

Using wearable projection technology designed and built by the artists, the video loops are displayed exclusively on the curved and convoluted surface of the V&A’s imposing entrance façade. The work is a one-off performance bridging Cybersonica and the Cold War Modern exhibition, and will not be repeated.

Ed Firth / Shaun O’Connor



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One Response to “V&A LATE – OCT 31”

  1. […] on DVD from snowboarding retail outlets. There was a premiere in Brixton’s Roxy but I was shivering outside the V&A that […]


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