Corporate Cannibal. Grace Jones Statement to our current misery is very clear.
Pleased to meet you, pleased to have you on my plate
you’re my life support, your life is my sport
I’m a man-eating machine
you won’t hear me laughing, as i terminate your day
you can’t trace my footsteps, as i walk the other way
i can’t get enough prey, pray for me
(i’m a man-eating machine)
corporate cannibal, digital criminal
corporate cannibal, eat you like an animal
employer of the year, grandmaster of fear
my blood flows satanical,
mechanical, masonical and chemical
i deal in the market, every man, woman and child is a target
a closet full of faceless nameless pay more for less emptiness
i’ll make you scrounge, in my executive lounge
you pay less tax, but i’ll gain more back
my rules, you fools
greedgame, power game, stay insane
lost in the cell, in this hell
slave to the rhythm of the corporate prison
i’ll consume my consumers, with no sense of humour
i’ll give you a uniform, chloroform
sanatize, homogenize, vaporize… you
To describe Corporate Cannibal one is forced to rely on material and tactile metaphors. The video begins with what seems like a diagonal strip of a fluid metallic black substance on a white screen, which quickly but delicately begins to pulsate. It grows what looks like an eye on the side, which then morphs into a face, Grace Jones’s face, but only for a moment, before being absorbed by the same black mercurial matter and being formed and re-formed over and over again. This shape-changing blackness is haptically rich. It is sticky, viscous, wet, slippery, thick. Shot in one long take with two digital cameras the video has no clear cuts, no punctuation, no recognizably discrete images, but rather unfolds as one fluid and continuous move. The only identifiable visual element is Grace Jones’s face and upper body. Her song updates Marx’s vampire-like capital for the 21st century, taunting her listeners with lyrics in which she unleashes cannibalistic desires. “Corporate Cannibal/ Digital Criminal,” she sings, “I consume my consumers with no sense of humor.”
Jones speaks for the corporation but does she embody it? I hesitate to say this because the corporation is historically an artificial person, but one that is deeply intimate with the biological body of the slave. This is the intersection that Jones animates. The artificial person was constituted with the Supreme Courte decision Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad (1885) by leveraging the 14th Amendment created to protect the rights of recently freed slaves. By lending her body to represent the corporation Jones re-animates this intersection between the interests of private capital and the formal recognition but de facto denial of the natural personhood of the slave. Therefore, her cannibalistic desires do more than play on inversions between victim and perpetrator, container and contained, consuming and consumed.18 Rather, these desires strike at the heart of one of capital’sontological scandals, the collapsed distinction between the artificial and the natural person as well as the one that pertains between person and property. Jones’ own biological body reminds us that the fiction, form, and notion of the artificial person that grants personhood to the corporation, hijacks the legal space created to protect the recognition of the natural personhood of the slave. Even before cannibalizing its consumers, the very legal personhood of the corporation has already cannibalized the living-breathing body and the humanity of the slave.
18 See Stephen Best, The Fugitive’s Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2004). In my discussion of Santa Clara I follow Nneka Logan’s work on the corporate person, and specifically her paper Nneka Logan, “Santa Clara, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Rise of Corporate Personhood and Power: A Rhetorical Analysis of Text in Context” (paper to be presented at National Communication Association, Orlando, Florida, 2012 Conference).
Alessandra Raengo is Assistant Professor of Moving Image Studies in the Communication Department at Georgia State University. Her scholarship addresses the ontological implications of race in the field of vision. She has published essays and book chapters on Lee Daniels’s cinema, the assimilationist imagination in The Jackie Robinson Story and blackness as phantasmagoria in Bamboozled and contemporary art. Her book On the Sleeve of the Visual. Race as Face Value, is forthcoming in the Spring 2013 from Dartmouth College Press.
If you want to know more about this issue please click here: http://www.worldpicturejournal.com/WP_7/Raengo.html
Following interview I found at this blog http://hermitosis.blogspot.ie/2008/09/nick-hooker-turned-grace-jones-into.html Unfortunately I wasn´t able to research or rather quote the interviewer
TB: How did you wind up working on this video?
NH: Ivor Guest is a very talented producer and a very good friend of mine; he started working on the album with Grace, and we both became friends with her. She’d already seen and liked some work I’d done for U2. Ivor and Grace had just finished recording the album, but hadn’t remixed or mastered it or anything. They played it for me and Grace just said, “Listen, which of these do you like?” Right away I jumped at the one I visually responded to the most, and that of course was “Corporate Cannibal.”
TB: The video’s concept is deceptively simple. How do you pitch an idea like that?
NH: Actually, I didn’t. She trusted me. That’s just who she is… Grace is incredibly smart, very wise. I think that’s how she works; when she trusts someone, that’s it! She just goes for it. So I didn’t know before I made the video precisely what I was going to do — all I knew was that I wanted to get her head, and I wanted to get her intensity. I didn’t do concept drawings or sketches, or pre-visual stuff… I just found it. She only had one worry, which is that I’d hold back — that I wasn’t going to go whole-hog.
TB: Can you tell me a little about what it’s like to spend time with Grace?
NH: First of all, she’s hyper-charismatic. It’s like a condition that she has. Also, she’s been famous for a very long time, so she really understands how to master her charisma. I’ve been out with her at times when she’s dialed it down, and she becomes practically invisible… anonymous. And then I’ve seen her turn it on and turn it up, and when she does that, within 5 minutes people are suddenly starting to pay attention, and within 10 there’s a crowd. After about 15 it’s like, “How are we going to get out of here?”
TB: What’s the rest of Hurricane like?
NH: Half of it is really strong vintage Grace that you can easily connect to her earlier stuff, and then the other half is much more contemporary, and of course “Corporate Cannibal” is an example of that. It’s funny, when Ivor first told me he was working with her, I noticed something… I’ve always loved her music and I’ve always thought she was amazing, but I’d never realized that every day, when I’m in New York, I’d hear her music playing somewhere — whether it was in a bar or cafe, in a taxi, in a shop. It’s just there. It’s part of the soundscape of the city.
TB: What did you (and Grace) have to do to capture these striking images?
NH: Because she’s a model, she has like a Marlene Dietrich thing where she knows exactly what the light’s doing to her, or how she looks from two different sides… She’s very confident in her beauty. When we shot, she’d just been in Jamaica for three months, so she was intensely black, like dark, dark black. She didn’t have any makeup on… in fact we put a face-mask on her, like a skin, and used it to peel off every bit of dirt and grit, whatever the city had put on her face that day. All that remained was sort of the raw glow of her skin. She had a bit of lip-gloss, and that’s it. There are people out there working on videos for artists out there like Madonna and Mariah Carey, and they spend weeks and weeks rotoscoping every shot and removing every blemish… It doesn’t take much to make Grace look good.
TB: Did you have to film over and over to get it right?
NH: It was only one take! There were two cameras: one camera directly in front of her on a tripod, and there was a handheld infra-red camera that I was operating. If you look at the video, you’ll see there’s a lot of head-on stuff, and the other material is a little bit grainier and it’s all from the right. That’s the handheld, same take. We did other run-throughs to set up, but we just wound up filming the once. We started working at midnight, and we finished as the sun was coming up.
TB: And then after that, what next?
NH: When I got back to New York and I finally put the head into the computer, I found the key image that was going to be the cornerstone of the video. Then my heart sank, because I knew it was going to be a frame-by-frame job and it was going to take weeks and weeks! It was very labor intensive… very low-fi on the input side of things, but hi-fi on the output. But there wasn’t any time pressure, and I wasn’t nervous about anyone breathing down my neck. In fact, she almost forgot about it! When she came back to New York, I went to visit her and show her some raw, unedited pieces. It’s funny, I was recovering from a hernia operation, and I still had the stitches in; I walked in and opened my laptop and played the clips for her, and she couldn’t believe it, she went completely mad, and jumped on me — so I’m staggering around holding her and thinking any second my hernia scar is going to give way and 30 feet of intestines are going to fly across the room.
TB: Overall, it sounds like a pretty surreal production experience!
NH: Yes… honestly it was refreshing to be able to go fast. It didn’t have that quality which I often dread, in which we’re in the studio and the clock is ticking and money is being spend, and every hour that goes by is another $10,000 out the window. Fuck fuck fuck… panic panic panic! It was a really truly ideal situation. There’s a misunderstanding about Grace that some people have and need to get straightened out on, which is that she’s just a sort of lump of clay in the hands of these Svengali types, that her work is really their work. That’s completely wrong. She’s very savvy, smart, sophisticated artist who really knows what she’s doing. Sometimes when we were editing she’d make calls about the edits that made me think, “Fucking hell!” But then she always ended up being right. She was almost always bang-on.