Pink Floyd to Lady Gaga: The Art of Pop Video at FACT Liverpool

By Emily Beeson | 21 March 2013

Exhibition preview: The Art of Pop Video, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool, until May 26 2013

A photo of a woman standing up gesticulating while covered in yellow tape in a pop video
Lady Gaga on typically demure form for her video for the single Telephone© Universal
Showcasing iconic clips in music video history, this exhibition spans classic and contemporary pop music across the past 80 years.

Among more than 100 videos, Man Ray’s 1926 avant-garde Emak Bakia is the oldest clip, beginning a conceptual journey through the evolution of the genre to modern works such as Radiohead’s House of Cards.

Exploring the history of the music video’s big budget directorial feats and advanced choreography, including collaborations such as those between Madonna and David Fincher in the Conquest of Film section, it also charts the development of experimental, lo-fi and crowd-sourced videos in the Amateur collection, demonstrating the vast and interdisciplinary nature of the pop video as an artistic medium.

From Abstractions to The Dancing of Politics, defining movements and transitions are showcased and hailed. Clips from Pink Floyd, Pussy Riot and Arcade Fire represent the pop video as a political statement, while a smaller category, The Conquest of the Arts, proffers a group of videos produced by bands with links to the visual arts whose videos appropriate the iconography of popular culture, like New Order’s Blue Monday.

The Wilderness Downtown is an interesting addition to the archive; it showcases videos that explore the nature of life in an urban setting, amid the thrall of the megacity, by way of filmic track accompaniments to Amy Winehouse and DJ Shadow singles.

Memorable contributions to the pop video as a medium are, of course, included in this tour of the visual trajectory, running from Queen, Prince and Bjork to Ladytron and the influence of Bob Dylan.

Fatboy Slim’s Praise You is extolled as an amateur video sensation, and the significance of dance asserts itself further via Fred Astaire, Die Antwoord and Grace Jones’ famed video for Slave to the Rhythm.

While the Music Videos in the Arts section singularly hones in on videos created and directed by known visual artists such as Andy Warhol, the exhibition speculates as to the artistic future of the pop video, mapping the orientation from the development of the pop music film to MTV’s golden years and the digital age.

The Art of Pop Video considers the viral short films of bands such as OK Go in the wake of classic clips including Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. And a specially-commissioned film for the exhibition, by Liverpool band Outfit, plays between the reels of pop video history.

  • Open 12pm-6pm (11am-6pm Saturday). Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @ fact_liverpool.

More pictures:

A photo of a computer-generated woman with a cat's head singing into a microphone
Nina Simone, My Baby Just Cares for Me© Licensemusic.comApS
A photo of two young women in a yellow car driving through a desert in a pop video
Lady Gaga, Telephone© Universal
A photo of four men standing in rows next to five different coloured dogs
Ok Go, White Knuckles© EMI
A photo of a computer-driven human being operating machine as part of a pop video
Björk, All is Full of Love© Universal
A photo of an army of men in yellow suits with circular yellow and blue hats against red
Pet Shop Boys, Go West© EMI
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