Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Der Lauf der Dinge

So there's a new video by that band that make the viral music videos (and apparently the soundtrack too, but who cares about that) that later get turned into adverts for vitamin tablets.
It's a pretty cool video of a gigantic colourful contraption that even plays parts of the song as it runs.

This is clearly not a new concept, although done very well here. For example, the Bravery had a video that looked very similar a few years ago:

In fact, I think the Bravery's version is closer to what I am now going to call the original - "der Lauf der Dinge", a 1987 movie by a Swiss duo of artists, Fischli/Weiss.
Clearly, the concept of an overly complicated machine or chain reaction in which one element triggers the next is much older - there's Heath Robinson, for one thing, and the whole Dominoes thing. But there are elements in both the OK GO and Bravery videos that come straight from Der Lauf der Dinge, such as the twisted bin bags being slowly undone as they turn, or car tyres bouncing down a ladder.

I'm not really trying to pinpoint any plagiarism here, but what I think is interesting is that Der Lauf der Dings derives most of its wit from the suspense that occurs when you are not *quite* sure whether the next link is going to work. The times where some strange foam drips off a board, a rolling cone goes slightly off track - the times where you suspect everything might just go wrong. Apparently the Independent said at the time, "Watching 'Der Lauf der Dinge' is like watching a Hitchcock movie by objects instead of people." which sums it up quite well. I think it's probably just showing its age though. Youtube videos can't really afford to have many moments that will allow people get impatient, because there's always a cat video to watch.

In any case, to prove my point, Fischli/Weiss seem to have removed the original version of Der Lauf der Dinge from Youtube, and the only version you can watch is a sped-up one set to music.

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