Kanye West's "Power" video, which premieres Thursday (August 5) at 11 p.m. on MTV, is a collaboration between the Louis Vuitton Don and artist Marco Brambilla. When MTV News caught up with the director Wednesday afternoon, he said he and West attempted to paint a portrait of power in the clip.
"There's a lyric in the song — 'No one man should have this much power' — so the video kind of answers its own question," Brambilla said. "It poses the question: 'What does power and access look like?' And then: 'How delicate is it to preserve that moment of time?' "
Brambilla said they wanted to take a contemporary look at the idea of someone being immortal then becoming mortal, and show it in a way that would connect to art history. He used the Sistine Chapel as a reference point, including a Michelangelo fresco that comes to life. West is the central figure of the piece and represents "power." Brambilla said West has gone through a tumultuous past year, as expressed in the lyrics of "Power," and is in a moment of transition.
For the video, Brambilla used the photo-montage style of his "Civilization" video installation, which is what caused West to seek out the artist in the first place.
"I shot images of the casting, people who came in as dancers and models and actresses in the various poses, and then it was put together as a photograph originally," Brambilla said. "We had very little time to shoot it. We only had a day to shoot it, so I basically know exactly how each element would look, where each element would go and how the whole piece would choreograph, because there's about 24 layers of video in the piece, and they are all interconnected. So it's almost like a visual ballet in a way, and it had to be pre-planned in a very specific way to make it cohesive and to make it work. That was the most challenging part of it: how to [translate] it from a still, a painting, and then make the painting come alive into the filming and the photography."
Amazingly enough, Brambilla was able to accomplish this in a minute and a half. The "Power" clip might only be 90 seconds, but Brambilla said that wasn't the plan going in.
"I made it very clear at the beginning that I wasn't really interested if it was going to be a music video," he said. "I wanted to do something which was more like a visual accompaniment to the track, and so it didn't really need to be any specific length and it didn't really need to be the whole song. It needed to kind of introduce the song in a different way and a fresh way, and I came with this continuous shot with no cuts, no lip sync, and the minute, minute and a half just ... seemed like the perfect amount of time to show a video portrait.
"It didn't answer all the questions," he added. "It just becomes more provocative and a little bit more tense at the end, because it cuts away just before the action within it resolves itself, so it kind of leaves you with the feeling that something's about to happen."
Don't forget to tune in to MTV tonight at 11 p.m. ET/PT for the premiere of Kanye's "Power" video and check MTVNews.com for full coverage of the clip.