All Articles
All Articles

Marco Brambilla: From Civilization To Power


Marco Brambilla: From Civilization To Power

CH exclusive: The making of Kanye West's newest music video "Power" with its artist/director

by Aaron Kohn
on 04 August 2010

Kanye West has been kicking up controversy right and left recently—showing up at both the Facebook and Twitter HQs, turning his teeth to diamonds and engaging the public with his crude and prolific Tweets. After noticing Marco Brambilla's "Civilization" video installation in the elevators at The Standard New York Hotel in 2009, Kanye not only wrote about it on his blog, he commissioned the experimental filmmaker to collaborate on the video for "Power," his new single.

We're premiering the behind-the-scenes video with the artist created by The 88 (above) and directed by Jenna Elizabeth, which starts by introducing "Civilization" and then shows how "Power" was made. We've also got an exclusive interview with Brambilla below.

Cool Hunting: What is the concept and how did it come about?

Marco Brambilla: To me "Power" was about a symbol, an icon of power about to fall, like an emperor about to fall. That's when I thought I'd like to do a sort of moving portrait, a video portrait of Kanye as an authority figure in a moment when everything is about to collapse. I wanted to make it really sensual and use a lot of baroque imagery that I had used in "Civilization" and create this kind of decadent imagery around him and have all the decadence and sexuality and excess conspire against him. By the end of the video there's a change in his position. So his position is compromised at the end of the video.

CH: Are you interested in doing more collaborations in the future?

MB: Kanye is more connected to the art world than other artists, so I thought this would be an interesting opportunity to work with someone who really understands how far you can push things and how experimental you can be. A lot of people will tell you they want to do something experimental but it becomes commercial. I thought Kanye would let me be true to my vision. I've never done a music video and one of the first things I said to Kanye was that I'm not interested in making a music video, but if we want to work on something that's experimental, I can definitely do that because I really connected to that song.

CH: Is it strange that a celebrity would depict their fall from power?

MB: I think he's a true artist—he doesn't react to what people think of him. He's aware, but he's not the type of person who's going to react to things in a way that is better for marketing. He wants to push the limits. I think using part of his public image as part of the way of illustrating his new album will resonate.

CH: What was the production process like?

Once we locked in on that concept it was pretty fast; essentially a three-four week process. The post production was pretty intense because there's about 22 layers of video in the piece and each piece has to be choreographed—it's almost like a very complicated matrix. The shoot itself was shot in extreme slow motion on a Phantom camera. The characters come to life, but they're moving in a very stylized way. I knew exactly what I was going to shoot the day we went on stage. I actually shot images of the models at the casting and then I put the models together in Photoshop, so we had it pretty well figured out.

CH: Are video collages your signature now?

MB: One of the reasons I took this project is because conceptually it made sense to explore celebrity, sexuality, self-consciousness, self-destruction. This idea of being in the center of the universe becomes a little intimidating to people. I've explored it in my work before. Regardless of whether I do a video work based on sampling or based on collage, those themes come through in my work.

Marco Brambilla and the Christopher Grimes Gallery are currently working on a show called "Evolution" that will open in 2011 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem
Loading More...