I can recall two things when the Brick launched its chain of home-furnishings stores across Canada years ago. I had no clue as to what the Brick was, and I was very interested in finding out, meaning the Brick’s say-nothing approach to unveiling itself personally worked for me very well.
In a series of television commercials rolled out over months, the ads simply announced, “The Brick. Coming soon.” That was it. Aside from the Brick’s now-familiar logo (which lent nothing then in terms of clues), the lack of any accompanying images left one wondering what the Brick was all about, and at first, it was easy to dismiss the puzzling commercials as poorly scripted and laughable. Yet as the enigmatic ads continued, the sense of mystery replaced dismissal. Day by day, intrigue took hold, and when the Brick finally clarified itself as a home-furnishings chain, I found myself soon after thinking seriously about buying lamps or end tables, even though I had nowhere to put them as a student whose living space was little more than a backpack.
Some months ago while wrapping production on “Oh What a Concept” (or, what I’d dubbed a moving-art music video), I decided to borrow from the Brick and similarly unroll a series of enigmatic promo images across the social media over a long weekend. Centered on a winged female figure (culled from graphics I’d worked into the video), five images had the same headline: “A Briefing in Concept.” As a writer, I felt the title was slyly humorous, as a briefing is a provision of information, whereas the promos actually said nothing. Over five days, I changed the images with phrases like “The bird is real” and “The mirror reflects both ways” (simple factual statements drawn from the video itself), and each ended with “The Concept. Coming Soon.” And similar to the impact of the Brick’s launch commercials, the promo images had the same effect (though obviously to a lesser scale).
At first, people were puzzled. If they thought I’d perhaps lost a few screws, no one asked (which was very nice of them). Day by day, I simply let the mystery unfold, all the while refraining from offering any clarifying online comments. So when the video was finally unveiled, a fair amount of puzzlement was there to draw viewers.
As a promotional strategy, the enigma concept would seem to be one that could easily suffer through overuse. And it probably has its risks in an attention-challenged world. Yet in juxtaposition to the informational waterfall of the social media (where as much detail as possible is part of the daily flow), the enigma concept seems to offer something through contrast, and while the strategy can’t be called new, it has perhaps been so underused or forgotten as to appear that way.
A Bit About the Video Itself
Photoshop effects, graphic design and Adobe Premiere Elements 11 combine in this music video inspired by the fantasy art of Yes album artist Roger Dean, the surreal imagery of Genesis album artist Paul Whitehead and “The Man With Kaleidoscope Eyes,” Alan Aldridge.
It’s really not about the music, although I like the song. Written and recorded a lifetime ago with a four-piece rock band called the Stray Katz, the track was recorded as a one-shot live take in the basement studio of drummer Andrew St. George (The Start). As a demo, and for what was available equipment-wise at the time, I think the results aren’t bad. Yet for me, it’s less about the song and more about experimental graphic techniques developed to essentially create a moving piece of art to accompany a rough storyline—a sort-of through-the-looking-glass excursion in which a male character (me) searches for an elusive female figure (Mary Beth Bruce) after unwittingly stepping into a strange world.
Soundtrack: “Oh What a Concept,” copyright © 2015 (words and music), Xristopher Bland. Re-mastered from an original recording by the Stray Katz.
Lead Guitar: Rick Wood
Rhythm Guitar: Lance Bland
Bass: Gord Bell
Drums, vocals: Xristopher Bland
Engineer: Andrew St. George
Shooting Locations: The Harris Woolen Mill Ruins (Rockwood Conservation Area); The Eramosa River (Wellington County); Rosewood Farm (Saugeen Country).
All video images (stills and video sequences) copyright © 2015, Xristopher Bland. All images of Mary Beth Bruce used with permission.