Immediately after completing the first volume of The Criterion Vine Of Living Art—a project in which Criterion Collection cover art is recreated as six-second, in-motion Vines– I was anxious to develop more.
While I was very proud of those initial pieces, which paid not only homage to Criterion, but to three of my favorite filmmakers, Terrence Malick, Charlie Chaplin, and Robert Bresson, it was very important to push my team and I further creatively if we were to continue this project.*
Enter David Cronenberg.
*Just a friendly reminder before we get into this, remember to click the speaker button on the top left corner to initiate sound for these Vines to get the full experience.
First, I must acknowledge and thank Brian Clark of GMD Studios for providing the initial inspiration to pursue the cinema of Cronenberg for the second volume of these Criterion Vines. While discussing the first three, Brian stressed how essential it was to refine my craft—not so much for myself, but to ensure that I was providing the best, most intriguing and rapturous experience for the viewing audience.
It would not be enough for these Vines to just be novel or interesting. Because, ideally, the goal of this ongoing project is for other filmmakers and storytellers to pursue their own pieces, develop their own Vines, and engage in a discourse with one another on the history and legacy of film through direct and participatory creation.
Which is why, for me, Cronenberg’s cinema was such a treat to explore, dissect, and incorporate. Cronenberg is unsettling, beautiful (often a grotesque beauty, but beauty nonetheless), and transformative. His cinema is one of transformation, obsessed with the idea of individual man as a kind of social construct, our identity shaped and molded by external forces in ways we may not even be conscious of.
His films appear to exist in an illusory state, yet remain so tangible that we can’t help but be affected by them long after the theater lights go up.
Dead Ringers (1988)
Currently, TIFF is hosting a David Cronenberg exhibition in Toronto through mid-January. A full career retrospective. I could not think of a better way to reflect on and celebrate one of my most highly revered filmmakers than by dedicating this second volume of Vines to his work.
As I dove into this, I began to wonder what Cronenberg makes of the absurdity of the Internet and social media. How we live our lives through these screens and windows. How our phones and tablets have become appendages to our bodies. How we seem stuck in a never-ending loop that plays over and over and over again.
The three Cronenberg films featured in The Criterion Collection are Videodrome, Dead Ringers, and Naked Lunch. My team and I tackled each from a different perspective and style, but feel there is a definitive connective tissue through all three.
Naked Lunch (1991)
As this project evolves, with each new piece created, I only hope that I am paying proper respect to the art form that has shaped my life and given me a lens to view the world from. Please visit the Criterion Vine page for a full write-up on the project and to view all the Vines that have been shot so far (6 in total).
Would like to give special thanks to a few people.
First, my incredible production team for this volume of Vines was Tim Wu, Gabriel de Urioste, Lauren Conoscenti, and Kevin Huang. They’re incredible and, quite simply, I would not have been able to shoot these without them.
Would like to give a very special shout-out to my collaborators in development: Raquel Cedar, Daniel Carbone, Brian Clark, Darryl Mascarenhas, Natasha Kermani (who was kind enough to lend me her lips for the Videodrome piece), Peter Azen (who was kind enough to shoot Natasha’s lips for the Videodrome piece), Jon Smith, Sam Thonis and Alex Chinnici.
Lastly, I want to thank the amazing group of people over at Criterion and Indiewire for their continual support of this project and for their ardent, inspirational dedication to cinema. It is so greatly appreciated.
Again, to find out more about this evolving project, please visit its page here. And if you would like to follow or take part in this journey, I humbly ask you sign up for my newsletter, “This Is Where We Embark,” at the bottom of the page.