With modern cameras capable of capturing colors we don’t even have names for, the decision to shoot in black-and-white is not a decision to be made lightly. In his video for the David Byrne/St. Vincent collaborative song “Who,” director Martin de Thurah not only uses black-and-white to establish a sense of Twilight Zone-esque otherworldliness but he also utilizes his limited color palette to reemphasize the importance of both artists in the creation of the song.
The video begins with a dapper David Byrne cautiously getting out of his car to inspect an unresponsive Annie Clark who happens to be lying on her back in the middle of the road. While the cinematography is magnificent and the way Byrne approaches Clark with his back hunched over is both hilarious and highly expressive, the element that strikes me the most in the introduction of Byrne and Clark’s characters is how colors contrast and complement. Unlike the extremely ham fisted Kanye West directed “Runaway” that also attempted color juxtaposition, Byrne’s gray hair and suit and Clark’s stark black hair and dress create an intriguing visual and symbolic polarity. In a world comprised of gray skies, pavement, and houses, Clark stands out as an alluring figure of mystery and possible danger.
Following a stilted dance sequence where Byrne and Clark twist as if manipulated by marionettes, Clark confessing her life story to Byrne, and the reveal that Byrne’s character might possess a dark side as well, the video reaches its climax with a final dance number rapidly cutting between night and day. At night, Clark is in her domain. Accompanied by a marching brass section, Clark’s movements become erratic as she allows her entire being to be possessed by the funk. At day, Byrne leads the duo in a robotic (in movement, not in passion) two-step before the video ends right back where it began.
Love This Giant will be out on September 10th via 4AD and Todo Mundo Records.