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ANTON CORBIJN: The Atmospheric Iconographer
Number of VMAs: Two in 1994 for Nirvana's evocative and vivid "Heart-Shaped Box," including the Moonman for Best Alternative Video. Nine nominations, thus far.

The Look: Striking photography that has helped define the onscreen look of U2, Depeche Mode and Joy Division: moody, stark, black-and-white images filled with religious iconography (his father was a vicar). "He sees pleasure through guilty eyes and he sees good and evil in very dramatic ways," said Bono.

What He's Famous For: The only Nirvana video Kurt Cobain enjoyed; injecting a much-needed sense of humor into Metallica's up-until-then unsmiling demeanor ("Hero of the Day"); martyring Joy Division's Ian Curtis seven years after his death ("Atmosphere"); convincing U2 to dress up in drag ("One"); coercing Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan to dress as a king and walk around half of Scotland with a lawn chair in hand ("Enjoy the Silence"); returning from retirement to lens the Killers' Sergio Leone-like "All These Things That I've Done" video.

What He's Infamous For: Subverting Echo & the Bunnymen's dark mystique with "Seven Seas," an absurdist clip featuring the band alternately dressed in drag and as penguins and fish; filming a fat lady with wings for the "Heart-Shaped Box" video (a visual element missing from Cobain's original treatment); inadvertently offending AIDS victims in the U.S. — the song "One" was dedicated to American artist David Wojnarowicz, who had died from AIDS, but the video, with U2 in drag while Bono's disapproving father looked on, wasn't exactly embraced by AIDS activists.

Look Closely or You'll Miss It: The animated horse that perplexingly jumps through the background of U2's somber "Electrical Storm" threatening to undermine the passionate argument between drummer Larry Mullen and actress Samatha Morton. "The theater of the absurd is his playground. I haven't the foggiest what Anton is on about with his videos," said Bono. "It's tempting to say Anton doesn't know himself, but his work has a strong narrative sense and he's telling his own story largely through the gullible lives of his collaborators."

What He's Known for Behind the Scenes: Never storyboarding his ideas and only giving a vague idea of his concept, and yet still inspiring trust in the most controlling of artists. Both U2 and Depeche Mode describe him as a "fifth member" and have allowed the gigantic (6' 5") Dutchman into their inner sanctums. Travis singer Fran Healy lauds Corbijn's sense of humor and said his gargantuan height affects his perception of the world. "He's got a unique view, I think, because he's so tall and he sees the world differently." Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan said. "There's a lot of subtle humor going on in his work that people always miss."

His Most Expensive Video: To achieve the rich, oversaturated look of the "Heart-Shaped Box" video, the clip was shot in color, then transferred to black-and-white, and then every frame of the film was hand-tinted with Corbijn looking on. "It took weeks to finish," he said, and noted that both Courtney Love and Cobain handed in different final edits to MTV. (Cobain's won in the end.)

What Might Have Been: After the successful "Heart-Shaped Box" video, Cobain asked Corbijn to direct the follow-up clip for what was the planned next single, "Penny Royal Tea." Corbijn felt he couldn't top the first effort, so he respectfully declined. Cobain countered by saying that, if Corbijn wouldn't direct it, Nirvana would never make another video again. And they didn't.

Curiously Absent From This Collection: Depeche Mode's "I Feel You," "Personal Jesus" and "Condemnation"; Red Hot Chili Peppers' "My Friends."

Absent, Not Missed: Roxette's "Stars," Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?"

Where You've Seen His Work: Every glossy rock magazine on the planet, shooting the likes of R.E.M., Nirvana, U2 and Depeche Mode at the height of their global popularity. "He gave us a visual identity that we were desperately looking for," said Gahan.

Coming Up: Seventeen years after being convinced to eulogize Joy Division in "Atmosphere," self-described "fan" Corbijn will finally commit the story of singer-suicide Ian Curtis to celluloid in the upcoming biopic "Control." "It's [a subject] very dear to my heart," he said. "If this is the only movie I ever make, that will be OK." And what about reports of Jude Law playing the lead? "Laughable," Corbijn said. "I read that in the tabloids and it's nonsense." Who will play Curtis? "He's not an unknown, but he's not on the cover of every magazine, either."

JONATHAN GLAZER: The Enigmatic Dreamer
Number of VMAs: Three, including the prestigious Video of the Year for Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" in 1997. Fourteen nominations thus far.

What He's Famous For: Making a brief star out of Jay Kay, Jamiroquai's pint-sized, preposterous-hat-wearing, lead-singer funkateer; helping Radiohead maintain an otherworldly air of humorless misanthropy; jolting the advertising world with his imaginative mini-movie commercials for Levis, Guinness and Volkswagen.

What He's Infamous For: Making hit-and-run accidents feel transcendent in U.N.K.L.E.'s banned and controversial "Rabbit in Your Headlights" video; transforming the otherwise-genial Sir Ben Kingsley into a primal, malevolent monster in the film "Sexy Beast"; giving Nicole Kidman creepy cause to bathe with a 6-year-old boy in "Birth."

What He's Known for Behind the Scenes: Modesty and invisibility. Glazer felt the entire Directors Label project was self-aggrandizing, so he opted out of appearing in any of the accompanying documentaries or interviews about his work. On top of that, he adamantly insisted that any disparaging comments about his work should be included — thus, Nick Cave's damning of the morose "Into My Arms" video appears uncensored and intact.

The Look: Provocative, unsettling and often haunting, with a fondness for muted colors and overexposed fluorescence. Glazer made a ghostly element out of a light bulb in Richard Ashcroft's "A Song for the Lovers," aped Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Clockwork Orange" for the immaculately austere Blur video "The Universal" and turned schizophrenic mumbling into a means of besting automobiles via sheer physical will ("Rabbit in Your Headlights").

Blink and You'll Miss It: The raven, the cockroach and bleeding wall in the otherwise frivolous "Virtual Insanity" video; another quick homage to Kubrick in Massive Attack's "Karmacoma" video, which has identical twins staring down a hall, a la "The Shining"; Richard Ashcroft's method-acting technique of sniffing his sandwich for cucumber (a vegetable he detests) in "Song for Lovers."

Where You've Seen His Work: Remember that oblique Guinness ad where thunderous waves transform into cresting horses that pummel surfers into the beach? How about the furious Levis pitch, where a couple self-distress their jeans by running through walls? This is Glazer's work — it often has little to do, specifically, with the product in question, but is so dazzling and disarming that the brand being advertised remains etched in your mind.

Curiously Absent from this Collection: None. Glazer might have the distinction of being the most lauded director with the fewest number of videos to his credit. He's made eight; all are represented here.

Coming Up Long retired from the world of music videos, Glazer might be lured back into the medium (he's currently in talks with the White Stripes and Kanye West). Once attached to the remake of Hideo Nakata's 1999 Japanese film, "Kaosu" ("Chaos"), Glazer is now writing an adaptation of Michael Faber's "Under the Skin" which he plans to shoot in the summer of 2006.

The Directors Label franchise is already looking forward. Next year's series will feature director Mike Mills (Air, Moby, Beth Orton and the feature "Thumbsucker" ( see Elliott Smith, Polyphonics Bring Balance To 'Thumbsucker' Soundtrack") and likely the directorial team Hammer & Tongs (Blur, Eels, Supergrass). Other participants aren't yet locked down, but series brainchild Richard Brown said he'd also love to extol the works of Shynola (Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, Beck), Roman Coppola (the Strokes, Green Day, Presidents of the United States of America) and Jean-Baptiste Mondino (Madonna, Björk, Neneh Cherry).

Brown also plans to branch out with a Directors Label offshoot focusing on the work of directors in the R&B and hip-hop fields, singling out Paul Hunter, Little X and Chris Robinson as the debut directors in that series.

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Photos: Palm Pictures

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