Sunday, 25 July 2010


MAX... I'm so glad you came to me. I've been through it all myself you see.

The hallucinations, the headaches, the uncertainty. It won't go away, but it will get easier if you stop resisting and accept that this is your new reality now. However, you'll have to learn to live in a very strange new world...

Let's take a look at some examples of contemporary art and design that are obviously influenced by the works of David Cronenberg. That the ideas he first postulated in Shivers are still having such an influence on the arts 35 years later is interesting. Is it a testament to the depth and richness of his vision? Or are artists cribbing from Cronenberg for a more superficial reason, namely that the imagery in his films is so fetishistically pleasing? I'll leave that up to you to decide...


This was a group exhibition of video art held at the Waterside Project Space, a new gallery in East London. It was set up to resemble the interior of the Mission from Videodrome, quite an ingenious gimmick for a video installation. In the gallery's own words:

Cathode Ray Mission creates a fictional environment in which to display artists' video. With its technologically redundant display equipment, ad-hoc office architecture and low-budget aesthetics, the strategy stands in opposition to the mundane, yet readily available, platforms for exhibition.

Website HERE


The images of TVs, VHS cassettes, typewriters, gaming consoles etc, transforming into living organisms - complete with veins, umbilical cords and entrails - are some of the most unsettling and memorable in Cronenberg's films:

... and in reverse - Flesh transforms into technology in eXistenZ:


Here we have a computer with a tumorous organ seemingly growing from it, the tumor actually serving a functional purpose (see Videodrome). Japanese artist Mio Iizawa's Mechanical Tumor uses internal motors and pneumatic actuators to graphically react to the demands placed on the computer's CPU. The tumor pulses and grows when more programs and utilities are being run.


Joep van Lieshout is a dutch designer/artist who creates works (through his Rotterdam based firm Atelier Van Lieshout) that are simultaneously art, design and functional architecture. His description of the fully functional "Arsch Bar" in Vienna, Austria:

BarRectum, Arsch Bar, Asshole Bar, Bar Anus. While the translations sound different, the form is universally recognizable. The bar takes its shape from the human digestive system: starting with the tongue, continuing to the stomach, moving through the small and the large intestines and exiting through the anus. While BarRectum is anatomically correct, the last part of the large intestine has been inflated to a humongous size to hold as many drinking customers at the bar as possible. The anus itself is part of a large door that doubles as an emergency exit.

A browse through AVL's website reveals many more works that are undeniably Cronenbergian in nature, including some giant disembodied heads that are reminiscent of the artist Pierce's work in Scanners (seen in his studio).


Another recurrent nightmare in Cronenberg's films is inter-species sex between humans and insects (although most obvious in The Fly & Naked Lunch, see also the insect-like gynecological instruments in Dead Ringers):

These French posters (below) for safe sex and AIDS awareness are reminiscent of the disturbing centipede rape in Naked Lunch as well as the Japanese Lunch poster. Not to mention that when Veronica is having sex with Seth after his trip through the Telepods, she's basically doing it with a giant fly. It's certainly not a stretch to imagine a French advertising company referencing Cronenberg, as he's more popular in France than anywhere else in the world. Just last year he was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France.


Finally, in April of this year Toronto's Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art used Videodrome for it's inspiration for a large scale audio/visual installation. It's well worth watching, as much of it is striking and provocative (using imagery from horror movies a few times to good effect).


  1. You never know how much influence you and what you do have on the world around you.
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

  2. Great posts on Cronenbergian madness! One of my favorite lines from one of his movies is "I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake."

  3. Ah will, that's my favourite line from The Fly too. I also love the bit preceding it:

    "Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician."

    The whole monologue, but particularly that last line you quoted still send shivers up my spine.

  4. Wow! That is all I can say. This is SUCH a great post. Astounding images here - testament to how provocative, singular and gut-churning Cronenberg's visions, as a true artist, are. Nice one. Long Live the New Flesh! :o)