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The Monster Ball

May 2, 2012

Errors and accidents crystallize. The pearl is an error, a glitch in response to purity. The error is the aura. Just like Hip Hop records sample scratched vinyl to lend an aura of authenticity, the click creates a kind of anti-aura, lending a pearl finish to failure. Peter Krapp quoting Bernhard Siegert in Noise Channels

The complete Lady Gaga 2011 Monster Ball is available on youtube. One can watch the whole two hour Madison Square Garden performance online with quality sound. Although when watched closely, one notices that the footage is nothing like the contemporary digital high-definition footage, but rather more like the kind of shaky, blurry, in-and-out-of-focus footage of cellphone cameras. The whole concert video is made of a pool of amateur footage, [probably] shot by the audience at the venue and edited together as a whole (not to be mistaken with the complete HD version of the Monster Ball produced and distributed by HBO). It is unclear if the footage is gathered from the internet, or is collected by the producer(s) of the video, both options are equally possible. There are no credit lines, only just at the very end we read “created and edited by Haus.” Haus probably refers to The Haus of Gaga which according the Gaga’s official website and wiki page “is the name used by Lady Gaga to describe her behind-the-scenes creative team. The name is inspired by the German “Bauhaus” which she told in an interview in Germany and a play on the word “House” used by famous fashion brands. This should not be confused with House of Gaga Publishing, the publishing company for her music, which is managed by her father, Joe Germanotta.” In other places Gaga has mentioned how the Haus is inspired by Warhol’s Factory, as a “collective of inspiring and creative people.” In the Factory the camera was always rolling as they do at MSG.

“Lady GaGa The Monster Ball – live full concert 2hrs,” youtube still frame

One never captures a clear close up of Lady Gaga, the band or the dancers, and the more the camera zooms in, the more blurry and shaky the footage becomes. It also fascinating to see the multiplicity of angels seamlessly edited together from every corner of the venue, from the VIP seats all the way to the back of the top floor. One can never get “close enough” the video makes it clear, and as such creates a visual distance between the performance and the youtube video, a kind of distance that makes the video seem more real. Real as now familiar videos by citizen journalists’ in news media and the internet. The video proves once again that there is enough footage from any event, that one can recreate it from the point of view of the viewers and/or participants. Here we can see Lady Gaga’s show from the perspective of her fans, or rather her paparazzi army. The footage becomes almost unwatchable as the beat kicks in and the camerawo/man starts dancing.

“Lady GaGa The Monster Ball – live full concert 2hrs,” youtube still frame

At some point, in one of her various speeches Gaga invites the audience to put away their cameras and phones and be in the fucking moment, which goes practically unnoticed by the audience as captured in the video. One could imagine how the video could suddenly change from that moment on to full HD, something that does not happen, nevertheless it doesn’t make the project less fascinating. Here it is the glitch, the erroneous images of jumping fans, that lend the Monster Ball spectacle its “aura of authenticity.”

“Lady GaGa The Monster Ball – live full concert 2hrs,” youtube still frame

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