ACTUALLY, born and raised in the Hollywood Hills, specializes in raw Bacchanalian Los Angeles music video kitsch and performs live as Actually with her band Wet Look. Socrates Mitsios, born and raised in New York, studied psychiatry at New York University, and has since been throwing his long-limbed body full-force into a photographic career induced with hallucinatory-idealism from the grey depths of London, where he now resides.
Socrates and Actually, as the video art duo, hope to find new extravagances and beauty through their collaborative series entitled SoftRock. In SoftRock, ‘We like to be watched and to make art that we want to watch. That's the basis of our collaboration, while making nods referentially, but free to create against the expected and accepted.’
The SoftRock series, a series of 5 to 8 minute short films, are at once glossy and vulgar, fastidiously disciplined and wildly chaotic. The films are an exercise in the photogenics of sex, exploring the power within the act (both social and aesthetic).
The videos have all the predictable pleasures of porn and pop and fashion: processed, repetitive, manufactured visual thrills intended for rapid and casual consumption. The artists admit that their aim was “to create visually pleasing images,” and they have done just that.
The hybrid quality of their films speak to some of the strangely timeless aspects of the mise en scene. A pastiche of eighties, nineties, and noughties colors, fabrics, and patterns seem to give visual shape to a nostalgic longing for the sexual allure of decades past. But this isn’t nostalgia pure and simple. It is more than that. It is the past, processed and repackaged as the future.
Strategic film cuts and close-cropped focus are central to the technique of the artists’ work. Inspired, so they admit, by the Zapruder film of President Kennedy’s assassination, the artists have cut and focused on the juiciest details, sparing much of the broader panorama that they deemed superfluous. “The camera is meant to have an objective quality,” they suggest, revealing an investment in the scrutinizing gaze of the camera’s lens. The tension between the cold neutrality of the camera’s gaze and the heightened intimacy that it records is a crucial part of the viewing experience. The viewer is witness to a crime, an act of sexual violence that has been recorded and produced as a pop confection. (Linkof)
The film pieces are a progression, a smooth yet dangerous stumble, into a world of timid abandon, trance, romantic love and S/M. Like all good stories, we present the ritual of relationships. But these relationships grow through increasingly ominous and chaotic sexual encounters. Pain is a constant threat, but it will always be offered to the viewer as decorative and fashionable entertainment, shamelessly pleasing to the eye.