This article provides a new exploration of the British underground film scene and its influence on, and relationship with, pop video tropes and techniques, and MTV. It considers the rich sub-cultural interrelations of the early 1980s that embraced esoteric ideas, queer occultism, punk, postmodernism, British art schools, Derek Jarman, William S. Burroughs, home video, Scratch Video, Video Nasties, Super 8, Michael Jackson, Grayson Perry, John Maybury, the Avebury Ring, Duran Duran, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Dr John Dee, Jean Cocteau, and Neneh Cherry. The article establishes the unique film and television context and culture in the UK at the turn of the 1980s which enabled experimental and underground film-making practices to reach a wider audience through innovative programming opportunities at Channel 4 and via the expanding medium of music video. It describes the powerful, exploratory nature of independent filmmaking that existed at this time and its basis in British art schools; several of the practitioners subsequently went on to major careers as pop video directors, demonstrating a two-tiered influence on both the industry, and moving image aesthetics over the next twenty years.
This article was published open access under a CC BY license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Barber, George (1990) ‘Scratch and After – Edit Suite Technology and the Determination of Style in Video Art’. In: Hayward, Phillip (ed.) Creative Technology and Creativity in the Late Twentieth Century. London/Paris/Rome: John Libbey, pp.11–125.
Scratch and After – Edit Suite Technology and the Determination of Style in Video Art
Creative Technology and Creativity in the Late Twentieth Century
125 Google Scholar
Barker, Martin (1984) Video Nasties: Freedom and Censorship in the Media. London: Pluto.
Video Nasties: Freedom and Censorship in the Media Google Scholar
Comino, Jo (2017) ‘Underground film-making: British Super 8 in the 1980s’. In: Hunter, I.Q., Porter, Laraine, & Smith, Justin (eds.). The Routledge Companion to British Cinema History. London: Routledge, pp.306–316.
Underground film-making: British Super 8 in the 1980s
The Routledge Companion to British Cinema History
316 Google Scholar
Donnelly, Kevin J. (2007) ‘Experimental Music Video and Television’. In: Mulvey, Laura & Sexton, Jamie (eds.). Experimental British Television. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.166–179.
Experimental Music Video and Television
Experimental British Television
179 Google Scholar
Goodwin, Andrew (1993) ‘Fatal Distractions: MTV Meets Postmodern Theory’. In: Frith, Simon, Goodwin, Andrew, & Grossberg, Lawrence (eds). Sound & Vision: The Music Video Reader. London: Routledge, pp.45–66.
Fatal Distractions: MTV Meets Postmodern Theory
Sound & Vision: The Music Video Reader
66 Google Scholar
ICA (1981) A Certain Sensibility: A New Romantic Cinema. Programme brochure. London: ICA. Google Scholar
ICA (1985) Synchronisation of the Senses: New Romantic Cinema: A Summary. Programme brochure. London: ICA. Google Scholar
Jarman, Derek (1984) Dancing Ledge. London/Melbourne/New York: Quartet Books.
Dancing Ledge Google Scholar
Lipman, Andy (1984) ‘Scratch and Run’, City Limits, Oct 5–11, pp.18–19.
Scratch and Run
19 Google Scholar
Maybury, John (1981) ‘New Style Cinema’. In: Brooks, R. (ed.). ZG Magazine no. 2. London: Blackrose Press, pp.16–17.
New Style Cinema
17 Google Scholar
Mercer, Kobena (1993) ‘Monster Metaphors: Notes on Michael Jackson’s Thriller’. In: Frith, Simon, Goodwin, Andrew & Grossberg, Lawrence (eds). Sound & Vision: The Music Video Reader. London: Routledge, pp.93–108.
Monster Metaphors: Notes on Michael Jackson’s Thriller
Sound & Vision: The Music Video Reader
108 Google Scholar
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1968) The Visible and the Invisible. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
The Visible and the Invisible Google Scholar
Mundy, John (1999) Popular Music on Screen: From Hollywood Musical to Music Video. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Popular Music on Screen: From Hollywood Musical to Music Video Google Scholar
O’Pray, Michael (2009) ‘“New Romanticism” and the British Avant-Grade Film the Early 80s’. In: Murphy, Robert (ed.). The British Cinema Book, 3rd edition. London: BFI Publishing, pp.343–349.
“New Romanticism” and the British Avant-Grade Film the Early 80s
The British Cinema Book
349 Google Scholar
Perry, Grayson (1984) Arts Council of Great Britain award application and supporting information, including CV.
Arts Council of Great Britain award application and supporting information Google Scholar
Petley, Julian (2011) Film and Video Censorship in Contemporary Britain. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Film and Video Censorship in Contemporary Britain Google Scholar
P-Orridge, Genesis (1982) ‘Thee Grey Book’. In: The Psychick Bible (2010) Los Angeles: Feral House, pp.37–57. Google Scholar
Royal College of Art (1983) School of Film and Television brochure. London: Royal College of Art. Google Scholar
Wingrove, Nigel & Morris, Marc (1998) The Art of the Nasty. London: FAB Press.
The Art of the Nasty Google Scholar