Music Videos Earn Art World Respect in Cincinnati

Spectacle Cincinnati

The music video has evolved vastly over the past decade, and in the Internet age, it seems as if every song is accompanied by a visual counterpart, animated or otherwise. The mass of videos being produced today has paved the way for “Spectacle: The Music Video”, which is, as far as I know, the first major museum show about the art of the music video. The curators are Meg Grey Wells and Jonathan Wells, who created RESFest and currently runs Flux.

The show opens tomorrow evening at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and Dan Deacon will be performing live. “Spectacle” runs through September 3. If you attend, please give your impression of the show in our comments.

A description of “Spectacle”:

Although it has had an enormous influence on pop culture, music, cinema, fashion and advertising–music video as an art form has yet to receive consideration in a museum context. Spectacle changes all that. This is the first time a contemporary art museum has examined the music video format through a diverse exhibition–employing immersive environments, photography, video screenings, objects and interactive installations.

Spectacle features important examples from music video history, from the early pioneers and MTV masters who expertly used the medium to define their public identities, like Devo, Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson and Madonna, to artists like OK Go and Lady Gaga who follow in their footsteps today.

Spectacle also reveals the important contributions music video has made across genres. For example, many new filmmaking techniques prevalent today were first tested in music videos. And some of today’s most innovative cinematic figures–David Fincher, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek and others–developed their signature style through experimentation with music videos.

The exhibition presents the changing landscape of the art of music video, highlighting the genre’s place at the forefront of creative technology, and its role in pushing the boundaries of creative production. With innovation and exploration as hallmarks–from the A-Ha ‘Take on Me’ video, to Chris Milk, Radiohead and others introducing new forms of interactivity and viewer participation–it is apparent that music video as an art form is constantly being redefined.


  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Tigercat919?feature=mhee Michael F.

    It’s a shame that the music video has pretty much died out on television. At least we have YouTube; I love check out old and new music videos there.

  • The_Animator

    “Although it has had an enormous influence on pop culture, music, cinema, fashion and advertising—music video as an art form has yet to receive consideration in a museum context. ”

    Sound familiar? *cough*ANIMATION*cough*

  • Harry Mouse

    Le Musee d’Art Contemporain in Montreal had a music video exposition in the summer/fall of 2009. It was bafflingly curated, spanned maybe an hour and was clearly designed not to elevate the music video into the institution of fine art appreciation, but to attract a wider slice of the general population into paying full admission to watch MTV. It wasn’t very good.

  • ZigZag

    If the exhibition does not devote a good amount of time to “Fantasia”, then it is sorely lacking and woefully incomplete,