There is something so simple, and quite mesmerizing about this video. It's already four days old, but Francis and the Lights music video for "Friends" featuring Bon Iver and Kanye West has me revisiting it over and over again.
The minimalism is so bare that it practically punches the viewer in the gut. It's almost taunting and may as well be begging for criticism. Minimalism can almost become a cliche, especially in the world of music videos. One of the best uses of this aesthetic to this day is still Beyonce's "Single Ladies."
But where Beyonce's video gleaned with the polish of a stark white background that almost felt claustrophobic, Francis' video is so raw and open, giving the viewer so much space and room to breathe that it almost comes across as messy. The lack of an actual ceiling is clearly apparent, the step ladder sits idly in the corner as the camera moves in on Francis as the black negative space peaking into the left side once again make us feel like something is off. Francis sits somber, his surroundings as raw and naked as the emotions he's trying to convey through his harmonized vocals. When steps off of ladder and walks into what seems like pitch darkness but reveals a blinding light everything changes... he's alive only to tame himself when entering right back into the white walls. Are all of these nuances making any type of intentional statement? That's not important... this is a video where the visuals refuse to be anything more but a moving representation of the sonics that play in the background. Even Kanye's brief visual cameo speaks to his equally small contribution vocally in the music itself.
Designer Massimo Vignelli when speaking to the emotive power of minimalism, said; "Minimalism is not a style, it is an attitude, a way of being, it's a fundamental reaction against noise, visual noise, disorder, vulgarity. Minimalism is the pursuit of the essence of things, not the appearance. It is the persistent search for purity, the search for serenity, for silence as a presence, for the thickness of spaces, for space as immensity. Minimalism is beyond time - it is timelessness, it is noble and simple materials, it is the stillness of perfection. It has to be the being itself, uncovered by useless crusts, not naked but completely defined by itself, by its being."