The Word is spreading, but not everyone is shouting hallelujah. From the much-discussed Van Halen vid, ”Right Now”, to U2’s video for ”The Fly” and its recent Zoo TV tour, rockers are increasingly filling video monitors and arena screens with words as images. Now one of the art world’s most lauded ”word artists,” Jenny Holzer, says U2 is ripping her off — and she’s considering what action to take.
The vid for ”The Fly” is so similar to her work, Holzer says, that when she saw it she thought it was hers: ”It was a little close to the bone.” In her view, U2’s ”The Future Is a Fantasy,” a text sequence in the video, is semantically similar to her piece ”The Future Is Stupid.” And she feels another text block, ”Ambition Bites the Nails of Success,” is dangerously like her ”Ambition Is Just as Dangerous as Complacency.”
Holzer suggests that ”Fly” director Jon Klein might have started borrowing some of her ideas back in 1990, when he and former MTV producer/director Mark Pellington coproduced a ”Buzz” segment on her that aired on MTV. Klein couldn’t be reached for comment. Pellington, who directed the filmed backgrounds for the U2 tour, denies theft. ”It’s part of an artist’s influence on pop culture,” he says.