Musical Banality Contrasts Nuanced Thought in Chemical Brothers ‘Wide Open’ Video

The fluid aesthetic of the music video “Wide Open” by The Chemical Brothers (featuring Beck) was a striking contrast to the artist’s usually jarring and edgy videos. The track from its new album Born In The Echoes attempts to blend an electronic and, at times, monotonous melody with its melancholic lyrics. This creates a strongly unified sensory experience, but the drawback is that the whole product adopts a somewhat stale quality that is magnified by the repetitive visual aspects of the video. At first glance, the video appears to be a simple representation of the song through its gradual and meandering nature. But when one notes the nuances that embellish the visual, the whole video takes on an appealing attitude of reflection and wistfulness.

The video opens on a sparse industrial warehouse. A dancer walks into the gray light from the windows. After staring inquisitively and perhaps a bit crossly at viewers, it becomes apparent that one of her legs has turned from flesh into a shell of white netting and nothingness, making her limb look almost invisible. As the song progresses, her movements become increasingly wandering in style, as limb by limb turns invisible.


 


At one point, an almost total silhouette version of the dancer stands before a mirror, and the full-flesh form of the dancer wanders around in the reflection’s background. But soon after the converted version of the dancer drifts away from the mirror again, her whole body becomes “invisible” and ultimately stands frozen like a mannequin, completely dehumanized.

The video effectively portrays the connection between the song’s forlorn and detached lyrics with the dancer’s silhouette transformation, as it demonstrates the “wide open[ness]” and “drifting away” of the song’s addressee. The lyrics of the song are repetitive and are spread out over the track in a way that complements the slow-moving and seemingly aimless style of the video’s sole dancer. This aspect of the video creates a shift from the lively attachment of the flesh-version of the dancer to a detached, almost mechanical contrast by its end, which demonstrates the final introspective isolation of what appears to be total estrangement. Assuming one has the patience to watch the entirety of the visually unvaried video, the final product can be looked upon with artistic admiration, but also a notable amount of boredom.

Featured Image By Astralwerks