3 August 2010

Interactive film: finally fashion excites again!

Apparently, it's all about moving image these days. Fashion photographers are suddenly becoming fashion film directors left, right and centre. Can I give my two cents and say that just because you can make a beautiful or interesting still image doesn't automatically mean you can make a beautiful or interesting moving one. Who knew?

As some may or may not have noticed, this web-log has been relatively devoid of fashion stuff of late. This is not strictly a conscious decision, more just a reflection of what has (or has not, as it were) been inspiring or interesting me. This post, however, is set to buck that trend because finally I've come across some really exciting and inspiring fashion stuff.

Check this out: showstudio.com/project/eniko

Photographer and filmmaker Barnaby Roper has created the first (to my limited knowledge) interactive, user-oriented, web-based fashion film. He has made it for SHOWstudio, who are obviously known for pushing the envelope in terms of fashion imagery, but this project - titled 'Eniko' after the model - has really raised the bar.

'Eniko' allows the viewer/user to take some control of the image. We are given the power to select and record the soundtrack beat using the number keys on our keyboard and then to choose the image and order of images using the letter keys. This effectively means that, though the looks have already been styled by Keegan Singh, the user can 'edit' the fashion image to their own visual, aural and aesthetic taste.

Though I don't feel the images themselves are necessarily groundbreaking, it is what this project stands for that is really exciting and really important. Interactive fashion films like this may have been made previously, but this is the first one I've come across and I want to talk about it in revolutionary terms. It really stands for a new direction in fashion imagery, a new appreciation for the viewer/customer and most importantly a genuine consideration of what fashion could mean today.

The multimedia world of the internet has created a multidisciplinary, interactive mode of existence (for most people in the West, at least). We create profiles, we blog, we share film, music and links, we flick between multiple tabs as easily as we speak our mother-tongue. Life is mediated and interactive in unprecedented ways. We spend a large amount of our time in a supposedly virtual realm that is in fact very much reality. Remember, Facebook is 'real life'.

With this in mind, I think fashion really does need to be doing more than merely dishing out image after image of formulaic girl/dress/lighting/pose combinations - everything has been done and mostly better than it's being done now. Not to criticise fashion artists working now - because on an individual level there are many people doing really brilliant stuff - but it seems to me that on a general level fashion needs to up the ante if it really wants to remain relevant. What, we need to ask ourselves, does fashion mean today? What can fashion be for people today? Is it relevant and if so how is it relevant? If it isn't relevant, how can we make it relevant? Do we want to?

I don't believe interactive fashion film is necessarily the preview of whatever future fashion may be, nor is it some messianic answer to all those awkward questions that fashion has been needing to push ever-more fervently to the back of it's mind of late. I do think, however, that it is a big step forward. Whatever you think about Roper's 'Eniko' on a creative level, it is undoubtedly a move forward: A real 'take that!' both to those who claim that fashion is dead, and to those who think merely making a model move in a dress and recording it with some nice music is enough to drag fashion out of the ditch into which lately it has been sinking ever deeper.

Bravo Barnaby Roper, bravo Keegan Singh, bravo SHOWstudio!


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