Floria Sigismondi Discusses Her Dark Aesthetic

KURT: Meanwhile, in the world of pop phantasmagoria, art rockers in search of twisted, gut-churning imagery for their videos are increasingly beating a path to the dark and foreboding door of Toronto-based director Floria Sigismondi, whose disturbing skills are quickly making her a star in her own right. Sigismondi is the director of David Bowie's "Little Wonder" [QuickTime, 957 K] video, and Marilyn Manson's deliciously repulsive "The Beautiful People," [QuickTime, 1 MB], but does she really live under a rock, or what? Let's find out.

FLORIA SIGISMONDI: People think of women, I guess doing softer more beautiful, pink things.

SIGISMONDI: I've just got a little bit of that other side. (LAUGHS)

MTV: That would be the dark and creepy side, which is what makes Director Floria Sigismondi such a magnet for musicians wanting to create dark and disturbing videos.

SIGISMONDI: When I first started, as a painter too, coming up with these images, it kind of freaked me out because I thought, you know, does that actually make me a bad person or weird or anything like that? But I think, I've just come to accept it and think of it as a part of myself.

A lot of my images come from, you know, just that time when you just go to sleep, and I usually end up writing in the dark or just when I wake up. [QuickTime, 1.9 MB] I'm really inspired by the Quay Brothers, they're incredible. And David Lynch, he's amazing.

DAVID BOWIE: The textured part is what draws me to Floria's work. She moves away from the narrative to a certain extent, the narrative that she does put in is generally pretty abstract and I like that aspect of working with her.

MTV: Sigismondi and Bowie both acknowledge lifting the imagery in his "Dead Man Walking" video from the work of the English painter Francis

Bacon. The look of Floria's most noted video to date, though, [QuickTime,1 MB] "Beautiful People," although it owes a debt to Austrian painter Gottfried Helnwein, was pretty much the inspiration of the artiste, Marilyn Manson.

MARILYN MANSON: I'm a big fan of prosthetics and other medical fetishes and I explained that to her so we all went wild with, you know, her ideas. And I think she did a great job. It did leave some bad cuts in my mouth, which unfortunately probably will never heal.

SIGISMONDI: I torture a him a lot actually on every shoot.

MANSON: But you always have to suffer to make something great, so...

KURT: The new wave of rock-video grotesquerie isn't new at all, actually, the Austrian painter Gottfried Helnwein, whose self-portrait adorned the cover of an album by the German band Scorpions some years back, was doing images of medical horror twenty years ago, and no one

in rock has gone as far down the road to happy depravity as photographer Joel Peter Witkin, whose deeply disturbing work, which you might best seek out on your own is much admired by Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor, no slouch at images of icky sickness himself.