colourform logo |Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art Skip to content|
What's New |
Exhibitions |
Events |
Learning |
About us |
Visit Us |
Policies |

Ben Young 'The Sons of L'homme D'ore'

Ben Young explores archtypes of masculinity, by comparing the male role models of an earlier generation - those of the 1950s and early 1960s during his own father's formative years - with those of the current day. 

'The Golden Man' is a 1954 short story by the science fiction author Philip K. Dick. Young adapts this story into a 'sequel' to compare ideals, assumptions, and myths associated with the fiction and society of the "pre-pill 1950s" with their contemporary equivalents. This strategy also allows the artist to examine how male identities are built through father-son relationships: the film intertwines the particularities of his own family with modern mythologies of manhood. As Young notes: "with family members performing as cast and crew, [my own] relationships were reconstructed in the story along mythical and psychological narratives of male development." The opening title sequence is constructed from the covers of the pulp magazine, 'IF: Worlds of Science Fiction', featuring an 'average' couple labelled 'mum' and 'dad' who evolve so that 'mum' towers over the father figure. On the one hand, Young's story reflects fears of emasculisation associated with the loss of men's traditional roles. On the other, the narrator's baritone voice, provided by actor Brian Blessed, seems to connote a hyper-masculinity confident of its own dominance.

Young's film adapts not only the narrative forms, but the visual styles and imagery of 1950s fiction. The story is intentionally episodic, as though serialised in comics or on TV. The scenarios are fantastical and kitsch, ranging from a laser-powered laboratory to a battle with a colossal dancing crab mutated by nuclear radiation (recalling the premise of 'Spiderman'). The whole film is intended to be "like a box of chocolates" - filled with narrative 'guilty pleasures'. Young asks us to enjoy the myths and fictional clichés of the recent past as a means to measure our own contemporary concerns and ideals. He also provides us with an excess of visual gratification, reflecting his interest in "pathological narcissism". We are asked to gaze upon the artist's own highly toned body as well as paradisical rural landscapes and glistening  kaleidoscopes; and are seduced by the lush soundtrack and mesmerising special effects.

Still from the making of 'Sons of
L'homme D'Ore'