The Age of Chopping Off Heads

Campbell, David, Durden, Mark and Brown, Ian (2017) The Age of Chopping Off Heads. Common Culture, online.

Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL:


Brief Description:
The Age of Chopping Off Heads consists of two video works; Dying is for Amateurs and Trial by Media. Two choreographed dance performances have been filmed as interpretations of pop songs, written and recorded by Common Culture, with lyrics adapted from celebrity confession interviews. The music is produced by manipulating publicly available music samples in free to use Digital Audio Workspaces. The work was exhibited in The Laughable Enigma of Ordinary Life, Arquipélago, Centro de Artes Contemporâneas in São Miguel, the Azores. (15th September- 31st 2017 to 14 January 2018).

Research Statement:
Borrowing the celebrity confessional interview format as a formal register of a particularly pernicious form of contemporary commodification, the research combines generic music samples with lyrics formed from narcissistic confessional TV interviews with celebrities from the worlds of film, television, music and art.

The concept of 'throwing voices’ in order to make claims about how the world is, or should be, is used as a formal and conceptual strategy with which to ventriloquise our interest in unsettling and corrupting the persuasive and fascinating allure of contemporary spectacle. As recent political events in the West have demonstrated, the throwing of ‘celebrity’ voices has proven to be spectacularly successful.

The use of music and celebrity culture, and the mechanisms of their production and consumption, allows the research to interrogate the seductive allure of the culture industry by appropriating and redeploying the forms and conventions by which it routinely exploits and commodifies individual ambition as formulaic spectacle.

The work is formed around two components, the production of pop songs (synchronising the translation of found dialogue into lyrics with the composition of sampled music) and the production of choreographed dance routines. The appropriation and adaptation of ‘found’ verbatim dialogue from confessional ‘celebrity’ and political interviews’ is converted into mainstream pop lyrics to creates a context to interrogate how this material surfaces and is mediated into the public realm. Common Culture worked with Kelly Bates, a choreographer and dancer attuned to the interpretative clichés of television music programmes, to produce dance routines responsive to each of the songs. The use of overtly clichéd choreography highlights the inflated expressive economy of celebrity culture as being one that is both highly mediated and commodified. The appropriation of this mode of address allows the redeployment of the characteristics of product to be critiqued within a contemporary art context.

Item Type: Other
Uncontrolled Keywords: artwork, video
Subjects: W500 Dance
W600 Cinematics and Photography
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2019 14:33
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2019 14:33

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics