My initial idea for this project was to create a visual concept album where each track of the album would represent a chapter in a narrative exploring themes such as oppression, sexuality and freedom throughout history contrasting with how these themes manifest today. I was drawn to this idea because it is very relevant to today’s politics, and it is a very current issue that affects many people around me.
The piece didn’t have any kind of strict plot-line, but the narrative was to be in three parts. Part one was to focus on the objectification of women. I intended to have this section be themes around the politics and visual aesthetics of the 1920’s up until the 1950’s. A female character based upon stereotypical pin up models from this era would be filmed from various angles behaving in a hyper sexualised way. The footage was intended to be filmed in an invasive and almost voyeuristic way, highlighting the objectification and creating a feeling of unease about it.
I chose this because the pin up aesthetic is basically the quintessential troupe for a woman who is sexualised for the consumption and titillation of men. Whilst in the 21st century western women are able to freely express their sexuality in ways that are empowering, I found it interesting how the idea of pin up style has been reclaimed even though it was created to objectify women.
The second section would focus on the same female character having a crisis surrounding her homosexuality. Due to the rampant homophobia prevalent during this time period, many gay and bisexual people struggled with feelings of fear and denial of their identity and so ultimately the character would channel that fear into anger directed at her love interest. What would follow is a sequence wherein the camera would cut between various pieces of footage of her behaving affectionately towards another woman, and then behaving violently towards her, in the desperate hope that it would make her free of her “sinful” urges.
The final section would be based around the modern day, and how not an awful lot has changed since then. I wanted primarily clips and samples from TV and news broadcasts surrounding modern day sexism and homophobia, such as quotes from Donald Trump about women, misogynistic jokes and such.
I carried out extensive research about these themes, which included talking the idea through with several of my friends within the LGBT community. This was a very valuable experience for me because many of these people pointed out that unless one has first-hand experience in the issues they are addressing, it will be very hard to truly do it justice.
Because of this, I decided to not pursue this idea. Although I have strong opinions and feel extremely passionate about politics and social justice, I ultimately felt it wasn’t my place to tell this story – as it was not “mine” to tell.
I worried that utilising these themes without having ever experienced them and being in a position where I never will would make me unable to truly do it justice. Due to the juxtaposition of hyper sexualised imagery contrasting against a strong political message opposing objectification, it would be too easy for viewers to take it at face value and the message of the piece be misconstrued.
I didn’t want to run the risk of potentially causing offence, and so for this reason I opted to instead make the themes and narrative a bit looser but to keep the general concept around history versus modern day social politics. Moving the idea forward I want to create a EP without video, that takes influence from the previous idea.
As well as changing the idea of the narrative content for my piece, I also decided due to time constraints to drop the idea of creating a visual album too. I instead chose to release four tracks as an EP. I still wanted a “dark” theme and subject matter to the material but I opted to keep it more open to interpretation. I looked to genres such as darkwave and witchhouse for inspiration on the sonic themes, as well as soundtracks for films such as the score from “The Neon Demon” (2016) as well as science fiction films such as “Blade” (1998).
I tried to look at a range of material for inspiration as I wanted a cinematic sound, but also wanted to utilise elements of electronic music. I intended to make heavy use of distortion and dissonance, and to sometimes create a sense of unease. Now that I was no longer confined by a narrative or storyline to follow I was able to experiment more and let the compositions go wherever they wanted to. I also wanted the pieces to flow into each other, as if it was one long piece in four movements. I desired a sense of continuity to the tracks.