Posted by: Johnny Loftus on August 31, 2007 at 11:30 am

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Kevin Kerslake directed this clip for Nirvana. He also did the live footage montage “Lithium” for them, as well as a string of high-profile work for Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, and Green Day. His love of layered images, purple and pea green gels, and camera work that moved like the shots in an underwater nature documentary help define how we view the first big budget alternative era in retrospect, since the flickering memories of videos like this are part of how we remember it.

For Nirvana, it’s this clip for “Come as You Are,” the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, a few recollections of the band’s chaotic appearances on “120 Minutes,” and the drunk smiley face poster that every kid pasted on the back of his dorm room door freshman year. (Nirvana’s “Unplugged” set counts, too.) Everything else is awash in whatever the album brought up sonically and whatever else was going on in those dorm rooms. And though Kerslake’s visual sense was influenced by the era, years later it’s the look that strengthens our memories and continuing perception of the bands he worked with. Nirvana are rock-n-roll icons now. We don’t even need to clarify which part, grunge, alternative or anything else. And so it’s the mottled imagery and soft fades of “Come as You Are” and other videos of the era that stand out today like footage of Jimi Hendrix lighting his Stratocaster on fire. That was just one moment, too. but it defined a lot more. — Johnny Loftus

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