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Spectacle: The Music Video at CAC

May 27, 2012

Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center is home to the exhibition Spectacle: The Music Video through September 3rd, curated by LA’s Jonathan Wells and Meg Grey Wells.  Not sure about contemporary art?  Perhaps understanding it through the music you know and love will help!  The exhibition flows through several decades of videos that have marked the world of pop culture, design and film.  The music video is rightly shown as an art form, exemplifying pieces with influential expression, experimentation, and firsts, tied to the moving image and music.

Kanye West, the Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Blur, Ok Go, Apex Twin, Bjork.  We stood mesmorized for countless minutes as we tried to understand the world created in the music video in the many dark rooms with enchanting music perfectly pitched around us.  Encompassing our senses with either 3D glasses, interaction with a computer or headphones, or peering through peepholes to witness the videos marking the exhibitions’ thesis.  We were entranced for hours, remembering music, seeing videos in a new context, and experiencing for the first time many of these works.


Perhaps the most fascinating pieces on view were the examples pulled from social media of how popular music had impacted its audiences in such different ways.  Beyonce’s music video “Single Ladies” has been reenacted by thousands of people and posted online, Outkast’s “Hey Ya” viral video created by Shorecrest High School students, the crowd-sourced Johnny Cash Project; all examples of how audiences have participated in the ultimate homage to the music.

Vist the Contemporary Arts Centre’s website to learn more or read the Metromix review here.

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