You know that old saying, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it?” That sums up my take on most of the art world. I’m not informed enough to tell you what a given artist was attempting to say with his or her splatters of paint, but I can tell you if it’s beautiful, if it moves me, and if I’d like to hang it over my mantle. Well, if any artists out there are looking to get my attention, take a hint from Stephen Zeigler and Calder Greenwood, whose recent art installation invaded downtown Los Angeles to pay tribute to John Carpenter’s B-movie sci-fi classic They Live. And I like it. A lot.
In They Live, a beefy drifter by the name of John Nada — played by WWF wrestling sensation and chewing gum enthusiast “Rowdy” Roddy Piper — uncovers a far-reaching alien conspiracy controlling all of our lives and manipulating us via subliminal suggestions hidden in plain sight. How does he do this, you might ask. With a pair of goddamn magic sunglasses, that’s how. If you think that sounds ridiculous, then They Live is probably not for you, and I also won’t be inviting you to any of my parties.
The good news for all of us, however, is that apparently our alien overlords’ secret subliminal signal devices are on the fritz, because both their signage and one of their agents stood revealed in downtown Los Angeles recently, which, at least in these pictures, didn’t seem to attract nearly enough attention. Then again, it is Los Angeles. At least this passing businessman looks to be doing a double-take.
They Live might not have the name recognition or the respect of Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop, but it still spun the same sort of dark-humored, over-the-top satire of, as artist Shepard Fairey once put it, “the power of commercialism and the way that people are manipulated by advertising.” It also contains a six-minute fight sequence between Piper and Keith David for basically no reason other than that Keith David doesn’t want to put on a pair of sunglasses.
Honestly, the entire project would have been worth every bit of Zeigler and Greenwood’s time and effort even if all they produced was this last picture. Nice work, gentlemen.