ELECTORIAL PUBLIC RELATIONS

Obama’s a bit like THE DARK KNIGHT’s Joker, readers: you’re never quite sure what his grin MEANS.

I’ve been thinking about political PR, an issue of enormous importance in this age of image-mediation.

And I have to tell you, Obama’s Public Relations sucks. Not only does his voice sound like he doesn’t believe in his very own promises, Obama’s Joker-like grin is also WRONG. I get this creepy feeling, as though being stalked by the Cheshire cat. The message transmitted should be direct and powerful, instead, it’s ambiguous and meek. The ”Nutty Professor” attire that I caught Obama wearing, I guess as a way of saying that he, too, attended the Leftist University, doesn’t really do it for me. It’s one of those worn-out statements, like George Clooney’s coat in CHILDREN OF MEN, that make socialism look last season. In any case, I wouldn’t want to fall into the embrace of this Joker; especially because he seems all-too often like  a black girl so desperate for acceptance she’s painted herself white.

By contrast, Sarah Palin comes across as a healthy butch top, a crass version of Vivian Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara; the crucial ingredient are her cheeks, full and bright, suggesting health, robustness and Nashville. The figure most closely resembling Palin on the musical scene would be Shanya Twain – ”It don’t impress me much”. For in this sort of PR, readers, you want to tell the voters that you’re one of the people, that they can count on your toughness, that you’re determined as Hell, but when it comes to family, you’re still the pure, kind-hearted local girl who just happened to make it big.

(Some commentators in the blogosphere remarked that Palin’s impossible marriage between the married wife and tough girl stereotype indicates she’s America’s most successful cyborg politician. And there is something to this view, readers, for Palin’s performance recalls Walt Disney characters – she’s too cute and too pretty to be real, approaching cartoon registers.)

Another famous Republican vehicle demonstrates that the right-wing adulation of ”family values” functions as a disguise for the establishment’s perversity. I’m talking about Mc Cain, who walks around in a semi-mummified condition akin to Marlon Brando’s performance in THE GODFATHER, and Cindy, whose resemblance to Michelle Pfeiffer must be on purpose. McCain’s PR is telling us that he’s a cruel but reliable maffia overlord, while Cindy’s youthful cheeriness must mean she’s popular with the rent boys. In other words, when you have the power, you can be a decent prostitute.

 

FOUR MINUTES TO SAVE THE WORLD


In FOUR MINUTES TO SAVE THE WORLD something strange happens with time. The protagonists have fallen through the looking-glass  into a place where things are apposite, rather than opposite. Time is not exactly slower and faster than usual, it’s become liquid – like the liquid protrusions of DONNIE DARKO that haunt his journeys in the fourth dimension. And the atmosphere is not exactly hypnotic; you don’t sense a circular movement, rather a distortion. The clip neither moves nor stays still, it seems to exist in some Moebius universe, where time and space are out of joint.

Then you have the strange forays into the flesh, making it seem both transparent and endlessly malleable; perhaps animation taken to the extreme of its potential to undermine the Cartesian universe. These contortions remind me a lot of the way flesh turns uncontrollable in both David Cronenberg’s films and Jan Svankmajer’s animations.

THE BODIES EXPOSITION

BODIES is an exhibition of corpses in suspended animation. They have been preserved by a special chemical process, so that they keep the organic qualities of the ”original” as they are transposed into gleaming, hyperreal sculptures. But the difference between these bodies and the wax bodies of Madamme Tussaud’s is the fascinating implication that the sculptures are REAL (even though they are in suspended animation, ie halfway to being real). The bodies promise a contact with the material, but they can never deliver their promise. This is what makes these simulacrum sculptures, these holograms of flesh, more than just Uncanny; the bodies are literally undead.

So while the manifest message of the expo is that you should know the complex functioning of your body in order to take care of its health better, the latent one is a direct call to the Death Drive, an invitation to the necrophilic obsession underlying our psychic apparatus. This is already clear from the way people visit the expo in clusters, unable to turn their gaze away from the sculptures, yet seeking group support for the uneasy visceral emotion that the sighting causes. But it becomes even clearer when you visit a small stand in the hook, where you can touch some organs. Oddly, the experience is disappointing. The organs feel like plastic. The sight of individual body parts often reveals their pathetic resemblance to meat from the supermarket. Apparently the obsessive urge to touch the bodies, to feel their ”authentic, material substrate”, comes from the Death Drive.

The wondrous surprise the exposition holds in store is that underneath all the layers of intricately organized meat, fat, nerve and bone, there is absolutely nothing – emptiness. Most of the sculptures are made up so that they show the layered nature of the human body, muscles under muscles, bones under bones.The sculpture is thus ”a body without organs”. Through its many vessels, the body manages complex flows and communications with the outside world.

Nowhere is the communicative nature of the body more magnificently rendered than in the ”blood vessels” part of the expo, where the vessels are presented according to their mapping on the body. At first it seems like a beautiful coral, but when you look closer, you will see a complex web of threads woven around the body, forming its contours as a virtual sculpture. The body here is quite literally a communicative network.

Other sculptures provide a fascinating insight into our bonds with animals. The muscles of a corpse are pulled up by invisible hooks to reveal the structure behind them. Suddenly the meat looks fishy, with the muscles forming beautiful surreal fins. Other sculptures resemble cloned misfortunes from HP Lovecraft, something between Giger’s ALIEN, chicken liver and Robbie Williams in the ”Rock DJ” video.