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‘Risky’, Iggy Pop and Sakamoto’s Video-Tribute to Man Ray


Both the song and the video for ‘Risky’, embody a transhumanist and erotic romance that pays tribute to the elegant world designed by Man Ray.

Baudelaire once said that “Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will.” This is probably the most enjoyable aspect in the work of Ryuichi Sakamoto, which, like all good things, is gradually unveiled over time. Experiencing his work is like being enraptured by the essence of childhood. Sakamoto’s perspective is experimental and visionary: he is a scientist of sorts. In 1987 he launched a fairly strange album entitled Neo Geo, a voyage through the different musical styles in the world and the highest technology available at the time. This album featured many other geniuses, as well as his own, for example Sly Dunbar, David Van Tieghem, Bootsie Collins, Bill Laswell and Iggy Pop.

With the latter he recorded a powerful song called Risky, which was launched as a single. The video, directed by Meiert Avis received, many awards, and is a dark and sexy tribute to Man Ray. It presents the viewer with several key figures from Ray’s work, for example, light-drawn words using an open obdurate. Additionally, another striking aspect of this piece is the myriad of references that gestated around it:

The ground breaking video explores transhumanist philosopher FM-2030‘s ideas of “Nostalgia for the Future”, in the form of an imagined love affair between a robot and one of Man Ray’s models in Paris in the late 1930s. Additional inspiration was drawn from Jean Baudrillard, Edvard Munch’s 1894 painting “Puberty”, and Roland Barthes “Death of the Author”. The surrealist black and white video uses stop motion, light painting, and other retro in-camera effects techniques. Meiert Avis shot Sakamoto while at work on the score for The Last Emperor in London. Sakamoto also appears in the video painting words and messages to an open shutter camera. Iggy Pop, who performs the vocals on Risky, chose not to appear in the video, allowing his performance space to be occupied by the surrealist era robot.

There are two versions of the video: the radio-edit and the 12” remix. The second is the extended and erotic rendition of the video, which elegantly pays homage to the song’s name. Risky captures the different elements that made Pop and Sakamoto legends. The seductiveness and sensuous nature of Pop’s voice paired with the phantasmagorical technosis converge in one of the most fortunate liaisons made in the Eighties.

Unabridged video:


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