If Tony Cruise could perform his music anonymously, or better yet, have someone else perform it for him, I think he would choose the latter.
The artist formerly known as Kill’s latest visual alludes to a sense of self-removal from his sonic output. Described as a fan film, it is not Cruise who commands the frame of the vintage camcorder, rather the armless mannequin who’s escorted around The LINE Hotel’s Los Angeles property. She/he/it embodies Cruise’s record, “Replica,” that debuted in November of 2018. “2 get the cash u deserve, run away; emulate and build a replica,” the DMV-based artist speaks over his production like it’s a 1980s infomercial.
At the beginning of the film, viewers observe what looks like the replication process. The stairwell’s pipes and circuitry seemingly transmute Cruise’s energy into the mannequin, initializing Tony2.0. Programmed to attract fame and the white gaze, it is paraded around a Stones Throw Records pool party, with Cruise’s trademark motorcycle jacket hanging off its shoulders. Tony2.0 is a crowd-pleaser. New fans ask permission to take pictures but consent is skipped for a kiss on the cheek.
Is it an unwillingness to expose oneself to the trappings of stardom and success that make this duplication necessary? To be commoditized and sexualized at the expense of artistic merit. Or is it oneself who inhibits such trappings from being achieved? Internal and external perceptions obscuring artistic development. Regardless of the case, “Build your replica. Build it,” Cruise is adamant.