Two heads, male and female, stare blankly at each other. Then the lips of one extend, contort and grow outwards, as a large pseudo-sexual organ sprouts from its mouth. This growth enlarges and transforms, reaching across the screen as more transformations take place. The head gags and convulses, other bits that look like flippers, teats or testicles grow out of the forehead and cheeks, sprouting fine tendrils and glowing antennae. When they reach the other face they brush up against it and retract. The main female growth is part vagina, part puffer fish, part obscure seaweed, while the male equivalent is more penis-y, sea cucumber-like.

The mutations are synced to a revving electronic sound that is mapped across five speakers, following the bits across the screens, twisting and time-stretching in unison with their contortions. When one completes its display, the other begins and so on.

Brophy's themes are all here; sex dragged down from the hetero pedestal and reformed according to the rules of science-fiction, anime, horror films and pornography, divorcing then reattaching itself to cartoon and alien bodies. It's as if he takes John Gray's word to the letter – when it comes to sexuality, men really are from Mars and women really are from Venus. Or in this case, the aquatic theme would suggest these mutants crawled out of the sea on Neptune. For them, flirting takes the form of spewing genitalia.

And it sounds great on paper, especially in the catalogue essay, but in light of a series of inconsistencies all the grotesquerie seems half-finished, or at least rushed. While one head writhes about the other is weirdly still, like an icon on a website that you would expect to flash or sparkle when a cursor moves over it. Elsewhere tentacles lose their animated connection to the face they've sprung from, or the main organ-thingy appears to move on a different layer to the mouth, and so the illusion vanishes.
We can't let him get off so easily.
Michael Ascroft


Blogger Jared Davis said...

It is quite interesting that you are perturbed by the ‘inconsistencies’ of Brophy’s animation. One might easily say that such an argument is merely knit-picking, but I believe your observation is valid, however these small instances that seem to cheapen the production values of the work may in fact be important to the piece’s overall reading. Truly, Brophy’s cultural investigations in general seem to be most obviously fixated upon these occurrences of imperfect, B-Grade, slippages. What tends to draw his focus is more the brusque post-dubbing of a 1960s ‘sexploitation’ movie, or the overt plasticity of the blood-splatter in an Argento film, rather than cinematic sheen. I would certainly argue that these aspects of VOX have been noticed and consciously kept.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous michelle said...

nup, i reckon they were noticed - and left - one of those moments like "i can probably get away with this"..and in one respect he has...but more than one person has noticed it now...so maybe he hasn't. the disconection and the lack of surprise dissapoints me. once you have seen the man partially morph you know how the next 10 mins are going to play out..i think we dont let him off so easily..

7:49 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

The first question I found myself asking with this work is why these chick-flick/dick-flick/B-grade cinematic ideas are being revisited and focussed on at this point in time. Of course it is important to understand the impact that the endless proliferation of video games, websites, videos, film clips etc., which employ low-end softcore porn imagery, is having on cultural production. For me, though, brophy’s work didn’t bring much to the debate, more just threw another one on the pile. The most interest it held for me was in observing how one idea can be extended, self-advertised and inflated to fill a large double gallery space.

12:07 PM  

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