I may be over-thinking here, but the new Alt-J video for “Tessellate” leaves me full of questions. It’s based upon Raphael’s frescoe “The School of Athens” which depicts the likes of Plato and Aristotle and their philosophical friends having a big think-off in the clouds.
I find the video beautiful and love the music, but I worry that we are possibly looking at a portrait depicting how far modern day thinking has fallen, with images of black urban youth culture at its most shallow and caricatured (the dice games, currency, rims and grills of America portrayed by European actors) providing the example. The enlightened finger pointing at the cultural by-product of our wider societal ills always strikes me as a lazy and convenient prism through which to look, doesn’t seem very Alt. Perhaps we’re just looking at a straight forward flip-it-on-it’s head modern day version of a famous painting. Perhaps we’re looking at a new under water world where sharks force humans to do sit ups and wear pvc jeggings. Either way, what does it mean that the characters are throwing up Alt-J gang signs and sporting triangle tattoos? Is this the ultimate display of loyalty to the Mac Book and its command keys? Is the Alt-J album what gang members and video girls bump in their cars? Is Alt-J a secretive new symbol for alternative modern day philosophical enlightenment?
I’m pretty sure I’m over-thinking it.