“Star Wars” is like an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
OK, maybe it’s not that important to every living thing in the galaxy, but the passionate devotion the film series has generated over 39 years is a phenomenon, no doubt about it. The freedom with which material from the sci-fi epic has been appropriated and reused by fans is also extraordinary, especially when you think about the litigation that would normally ensue if you messed around with copyrighted images.
Cedric Delsaux’s “Dark Lens” series, at the Diesel Art Gallery in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, uses characters and machinery from the Star Wars franchise, which are expertly inserted into real-world settings. The Millennium Falcon can be seen hanging from a crane on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, battle droids sit in a busted-up Buick, while imperial guards hold a secret meeting with spy drones on the top of an office building in Sao Paulo. George Lucas has personally taken to the artist’s appropriation very positively, and that may be because Delsaux’s work exhibits the same level of technical perfectionism for which Lucas himself is renowned.
The control of color and detail is absolutely gorgeous, but also necessary for what Delsaux is trying to do with the work, that is to say, employing hyperrealism to disturb our sense of reality, and also give the symbol as much weight as the symbolized. It also goes with the territory of postmodernism that pop culture iconography is employed as a weapon to strike at the elitism of the art world.
While the images may have an immediate appeal to “Star Wars” fans, Delsaux has stated that “Dark Lens” is not, in fact, reflective of any particular affection for the movies. Rather, he is re-contextualizing the well-known iconography of the global franchise for spectators to play with the freedom of constructing their own interpretations and mythologies.
Reality is perception in Delsaux’s cosmology; Jean Baudrillard is the Jedi master instructing us that it is not even that “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view,” as Obi Wan’s ghostly presence tells Luke in Episode VI, but that truth is indistinguishable from our own point of view.
Postmodernism’s critique of the real has managed to offend anybody who takes common sense for granted, as well as the intelligentsia of the scientific community, who have taken it as suggesting that there are no verifiable truths. However, besides the intrigue of juxtaposing the fantastic with the everyday, the big idea in the “Dark Lens” series is that it astutely shows that we care about our fantasies as if they were reality.
“Dark Lens” at the Diesel Art Gallery in Shibuya runs until Feb. 11; open daily 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Free admission. www.diesel.co.jp/art