• Agressive Dr1fter II

    Spotlight on the second chapter of Harmony Korine’s art work.

“A world of vapours. A geography of people reduced to their most base, when there’s no god and faith has evaporated. You’re left with the Vapours of humanity and there’s beauty in it.” Jamie Macleod Bryden attends Hauser & Wirth for an interview between Harmony Korine and Hans Ulrich Obrist at the London launch of “AGGRESSIVE DR1FTER II”. Followed by a screening of its inspiration “AGGRODR1FT” the following night at Earth Hackney.

An androgynous teenager in pink Bunny ears runs through a rain-soaked field clutching a dead black cat by the neck. Roy Orbison’s “Crying” plays. An otherworldly kid soaks in a bathtub of murky brown water eating forkfuls of spaghetti. These are just a couple of moments from Harmony Korine’s directorial debut, “Gummo”, that imprint themselves on your mind. They are a good facsimile of his ever growing desire to deliver something more sensory driven in cinema; connecting energy rather than linear continuity: “I’ve become more and more interested in image and sound. Stripping it back to its base. A hypnotic sensory affect.” Never seeking to make the “perfect movie”, movies that “have no beginning or end – they just go”. He jokes that if he made an Opera for instance he wouldn’t seek to make the “best opera” but the “Harmony opera”. Korine even argues that he now has no desire to make “normal films”.

“AGGRODR1FT” marks the progression of this ideology. Made by Korine and his EDGLRD collective, it is less of a “movie” and more like a video game extended cutscene. Korine prefers to call it a “Blink”, due to the way your eye edits your life in short bursts. Its look is distinctive as it mainly uses a NASA thermal lens to give the film an infrared glow and colour that pops. Also featuring a score from AraabMUZIK. It immerses the audience in a Miami nightscape of fast cars and boats, killers and prostitutes. It follows an assassin – Bo, who is on the hunt for a demonic crime boss called “Big Man”. Pulling him away from his job as the best hit man in the business is his family. All of these are well worn tropes but it feels like Korine does this deliberately to emphasise that the point is not the story but the feel. Building a world to immerse you in.

Korine confirms this during his interview: “It’s very reductive. They speak in platitudes.” During the interview, he also expands on the concept of a “Liquid Narrative”: “There’s no continuity and things never begin or end. There’s not even really time.” As well as applying this to the content, it equally applies to how he writes. Despite his background as a pure writer he explains how he likes improvised writing – “Rave Cinema”: “It was not even conceived of as a movie. It was to see if there was something beyond movie making”. He explains how the genesis of the piece comes from the EDGLRD ethos. A design collective with its roots in gaming rather than the “arts”. There has been an idea to make this an infinite piece with no defined beginning or end point and have different character skins. Again, embodying his preoccupation with “the now”. He is fascinated with the “gamification of entertainment” and started out with this piece asking the question: “How can you be inside a game? The more I’m starting to feel like this is a game”. If this is so then he argues that there is only the now, there is no “time”. Having had a long standing relationship with gaming technology too, he is now impressed that: “Tech became more interesting to me because it felt like it was beginning to coincide with the level of my dreams.”

Korine offsets this digital immersion with his Floridian lifestyle. Observing with Lynchian charm: “There is no reality without fish.” As fishing is one of his hobbies, he explains how holding the fish is an affirmation of the reality that we live in. The Miami setting of the movie is therefore very deliberate and redolent of his love of warm weather and the sea. Also joking that he could live in a rowboat (like the ending to recent movie “the Beach Bum”) and that living in London was great but the weather made him unhappy: “My happiness is defined by weather: sun and colour.”

We can see this in the paintings from “AGGRESS1VE DRIFTER II” that surround the interview. Oil and canvas has been used to mirror the colours of the movie but have been pushed even further into oversaturation. He is interested in pushing the image to the point of disintegration and where it becomes something else. Considerable time went into mixing the paints for maximum luminosity. There are mid-range close ups of the hit men that glow and then there are bigger scenes from the movie. The boat in “STILTS ZOON X2” is colour pushed to its breaking point. A purple sea against a pink sky and glowing orange boat: “Every medium gets expanded and de specified, a film can turn into a painting, a painting can turn into a film”. (As remarked by Isabelle Graw in a previous interview with Korine) This is notable as it’s the first time that Korine’s art and movie making have intersected. Which fits his idea that: “I’ve always seen everything as one thing”. I.e. no barriers between different disciplines.

This is also evident the premiere the next night, which he jokes will not be so much a premiere as a rave. This feels true on the night with the film split across 3 screens like a concert and with lighting to match. After some walk outs the movie is applauded with a rapturous standing ovation. The audience head to a basement fitted with stripper’s poles and a screen playing images from the film. Evian Christ plays a heavy set followed by the infectious energy of Arca. Korine comes out dressed in his neon ski mask to dance at various points. His EDGLRD set is truly fun. A maximalist set that can blend Rammstein with Phil Collins, with gun shots echoing the drums in the latter. A stage busy with almost 20 people and masked dj’s. The merch continues the world building theme too, with “AGGRODR1FT” skateboards hearkening back to Korine’s roots in skate culture. Where videos like Blind’s “Video Days” gave him the confidence to play with form when they opposed themselves to west coast formalism.

“The truth is we’re all just fucked, so you gotta have fun.” The fact that he fondly greets the audience in a mock English accent as “wankaaaas”, talks about his favourite arm wrestlers and unrealised projects paintings of boats named after porn stars and then dons a neon ski mask cannot fail to make you love his unbridled creativity and sense of fun. The world that Korine creates makes you feel like anything is possible if you follow your own creativity. It is exciting, unbound and can go anywhere! We forget this too often – but he never has.

Harmony Korine / Agressive Dr1fter II

Credits:

Artist: Harmony Korine / @harmonykorine
Gallery: Hauser & Wirth, London / @hauserwirth
When: 9 May – 17 July 2024
Words: Jamie Macleod Bryden / @jamiemacleodbryden
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Assistant: Annalisa Fabbrucci / @annalisa_fabbrucci

All images:
©Harmony Korine
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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