20070820

Sunglasses on robots! Why, Kraftwerk? Why?

Kraftwerk has, at least since around 1973 or so, been a rather minimalistic outfit. Sharp suits, strict positioning, law and order, straight lines. But there's one thing that breaks the mold, and it haunts me. It's not Florian Schneider's hats or weird side projects, and it's not the nervous shape Ralf Hütter's hand assumes when he's singing. No, sirree.

It's the sunglasses. Sunglasses on robots.

1. The "comeback era" look



Remember the wireframe suits Kraftwerk introduced just before the turn of the decade? The, eh, checkered overalls with a black base and some neon color on top? Sure you do! They're pretty great, as long as you only have to see them in the dark. In broad daylight, however, they're hideous and reveal a to much of the shape of the body beneath (bellies).

On a few of the publicity shots from that period, someone has decided to attach sunglasses to the faces of the robots. The real Kraftwerk wore the sunglasses to concerts as well, but that's not the point here. Robots with yellow wrap-around Bollé sunglasses, is that a good idea? Well, no. Is it Bono's robot? Or Gunde Svan's? Futuristic, I'm sure...

2. The "Minimum-Maximum" era look



According to one source, Ray-Ban's Wayfarer model's "distinctive trapezoidal frame spoke a non-verbal language that hinted at unstable dangerousness, but one nicely tempered by the sturdy arms which, according to the advertising, gave the frames a masculine look."

So, after Tom Cruise in "Risky Business", The Blues Brothers, and Jack Nickolson, there's Ralf Hütter's robot. I admit Wayfarers are kind of cool (again), and I bet Hütter's robot looks better with them, sitting at his desk, than he would without them.

Or, as Don Henley once put it in "The Boys of Summer":

I can see you
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got that hair slicked back and
Those Wayfarers on, baby
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

But still, it's a robot with sunglasses. If a robot needs sunglasses it's not very well designed, is it?

No comments: