Spectacle: The Music Video Exhibition by
Laura Bissett

January 17, 2014


I recently took a trip to Melbourne with the boyfriend, for no other reason than to have a sneaky weekend away.

Walking around on the Saturday, we found ourselves at SBS’s ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image). It was here we attended ‘Spectacle: The Music Video Exhibition’ featuring over 300 clips spanning nine decades.

The exhibition explores music videos as an art form and their evolution from the 1920’s until now. We spent hours in there, watching clip after clip, reading about intimate behind the scenes details, such as budgets, techniques and concepts for some of the most famous and not so famous clips of the 20th and 21st centuries.

At the entrance, we were met with a rather large screen, displaying around 50 iconic clips, from Fat Boy Slim’s ‘Weapon of Choice’, featuring a well choreographed Christopher Walken, to the more recent work from Bat for Lashes and her eerie ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ video – I could have stood there all day.

Making your way through the history of the music video is a complete aural and visual experience. Overwhelming walls of sound and video are met with intimate closed off spaces, featuring interactive clips that get you dancing.

Interestingly, I found out that some of the most famous videos were actually made quickly and rather cheaply. This is the case for Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. This seemingly well thought out, big budget clip, was actually put together on a modest budget and on the basis that the band couldn’t replicate the epic sounds live, a video for television broadcast was required.

Conceptualised, filmed and edited in a few short hours for roughly £4,500, this is one of the most iconic videos of the 1970’s, made on a budget, using maximum creativity. Most of the techniques were created within the camera during filming, rather than in post production, a true piece of art.

Some of the most poignant clips were filmed on a low budget, with simple ideas and execution – something that resonated with me as a designer.

From the experimental, to the arty, to the provocative and the political, each clip produced feelings of nostalgia, opened me up to the new or created an emotional connection.

In the end I wanted more, but alas 3 hours had gone by and 90 years of music had passed. I emerged with a newfound appreciation of the challenge to create the perfect combination of sound, vision and message.

If you’re a music lover, get to this exhibition. It’s grand.

Written by: Rhiannon Folpp – Designer



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