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Creator / Chris Cunningham

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Chris Cunningham (born October 15, 1970) is a British filmmaker and video artist best known for his music videos, although he's also directed short films as well as commercials for household-name brands.

Although he started out working on film effects (including being personally recruited by Stanley Kubrick to work on the animatronics for A.I.: Artificial Intelligence after he saw his work on Judge Dredd), he's best known for his work directing music videos between the 1990s and early 2000s for electronic artists such as Aphex Twin, Autechre, Squarepusher, and Björk, while also directing for artists as far mainstream as Madonna.

Cunningham's visuals can often be identified by characteristics including graphic distortions of the human form, stylized lighting (often chiaroscuro or blue-tinted), equal use of Surreal Humor and Surreal Horror (sometimes at once), ample sci-fi influence, and advanced digital effects, with his video work often presented with meticulously synchronized and breakneck-pace editing. This style has been recognized for producing some of the most groundbreaking, bizarre, disturbing, and overall memorable music videos to come out around the Turn of the Millennium.


In the year 2000, he began work with William Gibson on a film adaptation of his novel Neuromancer that remains unlikely. (While the adaptation has since gone through several sets of hands, Gibson has stated that he believes Cunningham is the only director that could possibly do the novel justice.)

Throughout that decade, he designed artwork, directed several photoshoots, took an interest in producing music, and started playing a brand new three-screen audiovisual piece named Chris Cunningham Live at various shows, mixing original and new versions of music and film associated with him.

While he originally planned on making features for Warp Films, he has since started an independent production company called CC Co.


Selected videography

Music videos

  • "Second Bad Vilbel" by Autechre (1996)
  • "Back with the Killer Again" by The Auteurs (1996)
  • "36 Degrees" by Placebo (1996)
  • "Light Aircraft on Fire" by The Auteurs (1996)
  • "Come to Daddy" by Aphex Twin (1997)
  • "Only You" by Portishead (1998)
  • "Frozen" by Madonna (1998)
  • "Come On My Selector" by Squarepusher (1998)
  • "All Is Full of Love" by Björk (1999)
  • "Windowlicker" by Aphex Twin (1999)
  • "Afrika Shox" by Leftfield feat. Afrika Bambaataa (1999)
  • "Sheena Is a Parasite" by The Horrors (2006)

Short films, commercials, and other works of note

  • "Engine" (Nissan commercial, 1999; featuring music by Boards of Canada)
  • "Mental Wealth" (PlayStation commercial, 1999)
  • Flex (short film/video installation, 2000; featuring music by Aphex Twin)
  • "Quiet" (commercial for Telecom Italia, 2000; featuring music by Boards of Canada)
  • Monkey Drummer (short film/video installation, 2001; featuring music by Aphex Twin)
  • Rubber Johnny (short film, 2006; featuring music by Aphex Twin)

Tropes applicable to Cunningham's work include:

  • Audience Surrogate: The chihuahua in Rubber Johnny acts as this, with shots of him subtly being used as reaction shots to Johnny's antics so as to get the audience to empathize with the situation.
  • Body Horror: A staple of his music videos and photography is showcasing bodies distorted and disfigured, often twisting and morphing their forms beyond human capabilities.
  • Camera Abuse: Rubber Johnny contains several moments where Johnny graphically smashes his face into the screen as if it was made from glass.
  • Chiaroscuro: One of his trademarks; almost all of his works take place in a setting that's mostly dark with the subjects being illuminated in stark white/blue light.
  • Creator Couple: He was married to Warpaint bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg for a period of time.
  • Nightmare Face: Rubber Johnny once he starts smacking repeatedly against the screen and his face distorts into an inhuman mess of randomly arranged body parts.
  • Production Posse: As shown above, several of his works either revolve around or feature Aphex Twin's music.
  • Surreal Music Video: His other trademark.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: When not pure white, his lighting often has a blue tint.