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Friday, April 20, 2007

The Deterioration of an Image (NSFW)

posted by on April 20 at 14:54 PM

A famous album cover:
electric1.jpg In his collection of essays, Small Acts, Paul Gilroy (the leading black intellectual of the 90s) writes:

In Britain…[Hendrix’s], portrait was banished to the interior of the Electric Ladyland sleeve by David King’s celebrated photograph of nineteen naked women. Eighteen of them are ‘white’: a lone woman sits vacantly in the right mid-ground, offering a striking image of Hendrix’s own displacement and isolation [in the UK] .

That is the main meaning and power of the image. The black woman is isolated, an island, a stranger in a strange ladyland.

30 years after the photo was taken by King, 1968, another photographer duplicates it for the music magazine Q. The image in this case has little power and meaning because the black woman is gone and Moby, a big star at the time, is in it. Not only is he in it, he is unbelievably disinterested in the women. Moby’s disinterest seems to say that the original had no meaning outside of this: nineteen naked and bored women are posing for a photographer. Hendrix is iced by Moby.

In 2004, an Italian rock star, Zucchero (which means “sugar”) remakes the image, and though he returns the single black women to her lonely place, he, like Moby, places himself inside of the image. Whereas the original image was about a strange land of women, this image is about a king, Zucchero, in the happy land of his women.

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You're a wonder.

Posted by Andrew | April 20, 2007 3:14 PM

I think Moby's appropriation of the image is saying something. It says that he is bored by Hendrix. He is bored by the canon of rock music. He is bored by sex (and drugs and rock 'n' roll). It is something of an arrogant statement, but I think there is a lot of meaning in it.

Posted by Lark Hawk | April 20, 2007 3:24 PM

I like the NSFW warning in the headline. Cracked me up.

Posted by Sam | April 20, 2007 4:23 PM

"I think Moby's appropriation of the image is saying something."

He's gay?

Posted by Sean | April 20, 2007 4:31 PM

Not to be the grammar and usage police, but is Moby really "disinterested" (i.e., a neutral or impartial observer with no opinion)? Or is he "uninterested"? (i.e., bored or lacking interest)?

Posted by j-lon | April 21, 2007 3:18 AM

j-lon, i used disinterested to reference kant's definition of beauty. if i had used uninterested, which is grammatically better, it would have cost me the kantian echo.

Posted by charles | April 21, 2007 12:09 PM

Really, really good piece of writing. thx

Posted by jackseattle | April 21, 2007 9:04 PM

Charles, I believe you have a naked lady fetish.

Posted by Bach Good | April 22, 2007 7:48 AM

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