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Art shocking value or getting too close to the boundaries of taboo?

Our relation to art is mostly an ambiguous one. There are those of us expecting a casual relation with music and movies or any other art form wanting only to be entertained. Some others look for merely daring stuff with an edge of craziness just enough to maintain your mental balance. Whereas Shock value is the potential of an image, text or other form of communication to provoke a reaction of disgust, shock, anger, fear or similar negative emotion. Shock value is often used in the world of TV commercials in order to gain attention for the product or service in offer. For example, the Benetton Group is infamously known for using shocking material in their ads such as two horses, one black, one white, having sex as if to say sex is blind, and so should we. Such shock value can be seen in Gaspar Noé’s movie Irréversible. It is not an easy movie to watch but as an examination of what people are capable and how violence can come from nowhere and from the unexpected. The backward structure takes what is essentially a dull revenge story and turns it on its ear as we are forced to really examine how things get out of hand very quickly and what people will do when pushed to the limit. Gaspar Noe uses low frequency sound to create nausea, headaches, and disorientation in the beginning and uses it again here to make the viewer feel sick after the mood changes dramatically. Such effects are amplified by Daft punk’s frontman Thomas Bangalter who made the score of Irréversible. That soundtrack for Irreversible is a serious, moody and broody piece of work. Bangalter does an absolutely incredible job with this soundtrack in conveying the starkly contrasting emotions and realities portrayed in the film. This record runs the gamut from dark, deeply disturbing ambient tracks, to fast-driving, funky french house beats. My favorite is Rectum a sparse piece of eerie ambiant and sparse music that is quitte effective with is dark climax. I might be alone in my clan but I actually liked Irréversible, I found it to be obnoxious for some moments but also very challenging and daring. After all, isn’t what art is somewhat supposed to do ?

Thomas Bangalter – Rectum [OST Irréversible – 2003]

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