April 11th, 2014

Not just a recording artist, Lady Gaga delivers an element of avant-garde performance art to each of her projects including the ARTPOP app, an interactive companion to her latest album album combining music, art, fashion, and technology.  Creative director Rob Roth explains the creation of the app's host 'Petga' from a concept conceived by Gaga and birthed with director Ruth Hogben.

The ARTPOP app enables fans - Little Monsters - to explore Gaga's existence as a cultural interface in a new interactive worldwide community “the auras.” The app’s host "Petga" serves as a beautiful, ethereal guide through the process of creating one's unique "aura."

The concept for the character began with Lady Gaga wanting to create a new version of herself to be the host of her app, and then creative director Rob Roth collaborated with director Ruth Hogben and The Mill to create something unique and magical.

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While designing the character, Rob looked to references from films like Ghost in the Machine and Enter the Void, and artists like Warhol, Sorayama, Kootz, and classic Greek and Roman sculpture. The scene in Videodrome with Debbie Harry's lips on the TV monitor even lead to stripping away all parts of Gaga away except her lips and building the character around that.

The 19th century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley served as an influence for director Ruth Hogben. Rob shares, "Ruth has an amazing eye for elegance, texture and motion. You can see it in her stunning work that possesses the perfect balance of glamour with a dark edge. You also see it in the line quality of Petga. I think it's what makes the character so strange and interesting. It possess a lot if you study it."

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The music played an important part in Rob's process, "I like to work with music as a jumping off point. Gaga had given us the music for her song Aura and that played a part in some of the frenetic lighting ideas I would see in my head when listening to it."

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The end result captures the essence of Lady Gaga through just lips and motion. Rob says, "All of the motion is Gaga. We captured her movements during the shoot; her hands were very expressive.  There is something strangely haunting about it. It's like a soul captured in a bottle."

Watch LadyGaga's Petga below and then take a look at Rob's macabre promo for Penny Dreadful, Showtime’s upcoming horror series.