February 2, 2010
image 1 glamour cicciolina e
The Rise of Lady Gaga, David LaChapelle, 2009 (source)
Close up from Ilona and Jeff, Jeff Koons, 1990 (source)


Historically glamour was associated with witchcraft. The spell of glamour was thought to make one believe that something or someone was attractive, the assumption being that the original artifact was not. In modern times, spells and potions have been replaced with the tools of art and design; the camera, the stylus and the digital airbrush. There is no better contemporary sorcerer of glamour than American photographer David LaChapelle. As modern tools have shifted the scale of the spell from affecting the individual to affecting the masses, the effects have shifted from attraction to celebration – celebrity. In this image LaChappele’s glam spell transforms Stefani Germanotta into the celebrated Lady Gaga. The transformation relies on robbing the viewer of the original artifact. Germanotta’s genitalia is covered by pearlescent bubbles, her lips are masked by a glossy red lipstick, her eyes are hidden behind over-sized shades, her hair is replaced with a fuzzy afro and her hands are blinded out by vertical fluorescent tubes. We are given a hint of her feminine silhouette, but even this is rendered blurry through a glowing smoke screen that circles her body. By robbing the viewer of the real Germanotta, LaChapelle relies on our imaginations to fill in the blanks. The smoke dissipates, her hands wrap around my back, the shades and wig fall off, the lipstick smudges as we lock in an embrace and all at once the bubbles pop.


E. Sean Bailey


Transformation is a heavily explored theme in architecture, but since Modernism it is often investigated as a quantitative device rather than a qualitative one. Qualitative themes have not been so popular in recent times, perhaps because they are perceived as products of individual meaning rather than an objective truth. As a means for transformation, how can glamour be applied to space when glamour is regarded as a subjective quality, defined by the individual? Perhaps an approach inspired by Jeff Koons can be applied in order to generate meaning, through a reliance on formal archetypes. The archetype provides a quantitative justification (it has to be recognizable to many) for that which is qualitative.


Erandi de Silva





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