Described by The Independent as a "glamorous gold chameleon," British singer-songwriter Alison Goldfrapp projects strong, stylized imagery in all her performances, whether on screen or on stage.
I suspect she's just showing off here in demonstrating that with super-slick audio and visual production values—and the right pair of legs—glamour can even shine through gritty images of ashtrays, toilets, and garbage:
The retro Studio 54 stuff doesn't hurt either.
Whatever else she has going for her, Alison Goldfrapp seems to have the glamorous art of being photographed with an indirect gaze and obscured eyes down to a science. [expand]
"At a base level, the aesthetics of the image's luminous gold surface, the soft rendering of the body, and the overall harmonious combination of colors could activate the pleasure circuits, triggering the release of dopamine. If Judith's smooth skin and exposed breast trigger the release of endorphins, oxytocin, and vasopressin, one might feel sexual excitement. The latent violence of Holofernes's decapitated head, as well as Judith's own sadistic gaze and upturned lip, could cause the release of norepinephrine, resulting in increased heart rate and blood pressure and triggering the fight-or-flight response. In contrast, the soft brushwork and repetitive, almost meditative, patterning may stimulate the release of serotonin. As the beholder takes in the image and its multifaceted emotional content, the release of acetylcholine to the hippocampus contributes to the storing of the image in the viewer's memory. What ultimately makes an image like Klimt's 'Judith' so irresistible and dynamic is its complexity, the way it activates a number of distinct and often conflicting emotional signals in the brain and combines them to produce a staggeringly complex and fascinating swirl of emotions."
While I'm generally partial to mechanistic and evolutionary-psych analysis, and imagine that our circuits are indeed lighting up per Kandel's description, when it comes to slicing and dicing how and why art moves us, I prefer Camille Paglia's style of Freud-infused pop-culture riffing and iconography... [expand]
Writing about the power of the same painting in her Sexual Personae, Paglia's take seems more compelling, without delving into the grey matter:
"The Jewish heroine of Florentine art is now a cynical demimondine with a cold, worldly Joan Crawford face. Smiling, she runs her fingers through dead Holofernes' hair, parodying romantic tenderness. Her white expanse of breast and belly and taunting directness of gaze come from Von Stuck's Eve."
Dopamine levels don't seem quite as interesting. But, as the reviewer explains, there's much more to the book than which neurons fire where. Kandel's focus on just three Viennese artists, Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele, allows him "to compare the painters' rendering of emotion, the unconscious, and the libido with contemporaneous psychological insights from Freud about latent aggression, pleasure and death instincts, and other primal drives."
Art history and theory with a focus on Klimt, with both neurobiological and tell-me-about-your-mother insights? If Kandel throws in even a few Pagliaesque Chthonic taboos or Mommie Dearest references, we may have a winner.
Virginia [Virginia Postrel, DeepGlamour Editor-in-chief - CW] recently tweeted and posted on Facebook asking, "What photos should absolutely be in a book on glamour?" While putting together this collection of recommendations from pop-culture, I sought out the two photos above, of Sean Young in Blade Runner and Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.
But it wasn't until I saw them side by side that I realized how similar they are. Not only do both women know how to hold the hell out of a cigarette, but the images' contexts are nearly identical...
Both are from interrogation scenes in which the women are suspected of concealing their true natures. Both characters are extremely poised and confident, and both become romantically involved with their interrogators. There are several other parallels as well. I put together the video comparison above.
These twin scenes are following the same formula and mix of glamorous elements: smoking (even the question of permission to smoke), composure and confidence, deception, emotional distance, and danger. Is there an older film noir scene both these movies are paying homage to?
BTW, Virginia told me she thinks the Sean Young photo "is a little too calculatedly retro for my purposes. It lacks sprezzatura. It's more like an imitation of glamorous photos from the '40s." I think it evokes glamour, but I know what Virginia means — Sean Young's character does look almost artificial...
The view is of buildings overlooking Puerto Vallarta's Malecon. It's of a special spot too; a pivotal location in a great movie that helped put Vallarta on the map and gave it a place in Hollywood romance lore.
As every guidebook and tourist map will tell you (over and over again), Puerto Vallarta was made famous to Northerners by John Huston's 1964 Night of the Iguana, and by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who conducted their notorious affair there throughout its filming.
In the movie, Burton plays Reverend Lawrence Shannon, a disgraced priest who's been kicked out of his own church for being too hands-on with a "very young Sunday school teacher." He's now a tour guide and his current, thankless task is shuttling a group of Baptist schoolteachers around Mexico. These hens are headed by a suspicious, joyless harridan who is chaperoning her Lolita-like niece (played, naturally, by Sue Lyon). It's an impossible situation.
What's special about the spot shown in the contest photo? In the lower left, in the open space with the palm trees, you'll see a stubby black and white striped truncated obelisk. It's an old light house. Watch for it in this video at the forty-two second mark; you'll see that this week's VFYW is of the exact location where Burton's Reverend Shannon loses his shit:
I'm sure you'll get a ton of correct submissions for this one — the view is instantly recognizable if you've spent any time walking around PV's old town. (The iron bars on the windows are a recognizable feature too — sadly, they are everywhere there and they are not decorative.) The window is on the top floor of the Condominio Marina Del Rey, on the corner of Calle Galeana and Calle Matamoros. Specifically, it's at 20°36'34.45"N, 105°14'0.53"W
[This is another example of Andrew Sullivan, possibly the most widely read writer online, not crediting his readers' many contributions. I took care of this by changing the title of my video after he posted it on his site. See it here.]