Earlier this year, an artfully unkempt Shia LaBeouf stood in front of a green screen and acted his way through 36 solo scenes for a project from artistic trio LaBeouf, Rönkkö, & Turner, a.k.a., The Campaign Book. Released under Creative Commons, the #Introductions clip was specially produced for open-ended reappropriation by three dozen BFA students at Central Saint Martins University of the Arts in London. The young artists were invited to adapt LaBeouf’s stonefaced monologues in any way, shape, or format to their senior theses, and the results were eventually strung together into the school’s degree show livestream.
The projects represent the varied and unquantifiable blueprint of the advantages of green screening. Some students, like Charlie Floyd, took the opportunity to play LaBeouf in an atypical cat video—a looped, single-channel of strangely haunting flying felines. Others, like Christian Wright, capitalized on the actor’s fame for a mock-infomercial for aspiring samurais. Student Sam Walkden asked the former child star to dictate the RGB color model, while Alice Woods and Jasmin Newman had a sensitive Shia recite his favorite Charles Bukowski’s poem, “The Laughing Heart,” to the fishes and potted plants housed in their home economics experiment, the Aquaponics System.
In spite of the memetic brilliance of the original act, or of the reclusive star at the literal center of the works, the internet seemed content to let #Introductions and its BFA counterparts pass by without much ado—that is, until one student’s chosen scene caught (viral) fire: Joshua Parker’s “30 Days of Doing It” clip (below). In the scene, which, in it’s unedited format has just attained 4.5 million views, LaBeouf squats and flexes, delts bared and veined, with motivational fervor as he bellows his invective call to action, pacing back and forth in front of the screen.
Although it took online video junkies, supercutters, and comedians nearly a month to realize the opportunities that Parker’s scene presents, a plethora of YouTubers and Vimeo users have now begun to mine this Creative Commons gold on their own. Thanks to these late bloomers, you can find Shia glowering from the stage of a sparsely attended TED Talk, lurking behind Dr. Bowman in the cockpit of the Discover One, or crushing flowers, Laa-Laa’s head, and your all of peaceful childhood memories in the midst of the Teletubbies rainbow kingdom.
Below, a handful of our favorite LaBeouf reworks: