A warm fuzziness caused by nostalgia and a sudden, immediate link to my childhood nearly broke my focus. “Wait a minute . . . I’m here as a member of the press, not as a seven year old,” I had to remind myself. But when someone like me is face-to-face with something as iconic as the original drawings created for A-Ha‘s video for “Take On Me'”. . . the lines start to blur (no pun intended). And the thing is, I’m pretty sure that anyone visiting the EMP‘s new exhibit, the traveling show Spectacle: The Music Video, will have a similar sort of moment. My mother would moon over The Beatles’ “Help” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while my accordion-playing grandmother would really enjoy Spectacle’s representation of the Soundies of the forties. And, my kids would love the varied and interesting look at the present and future of the music video: my oldest gravitating toward the fan video section (she is beating down my resistance for permission to get her own Youtube account), my middle child trying to reverse engineer Bjork’s beautiful, 3-D “Wanderlust” video, and my vibrant six-year-old conducting an interactive video entitled “The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).”
The truth is, there is something for everyone (yes, including Devo) here, and there is a special treat just for us Seattleites, as the EMP version of Spectacle includes an exclusive Macklemore & Ryan Lewis section. Yeah, you can see the very wolf hat that Mack rocked on his noggin’ for “Can’t Hold Us,” along with his mariachi outfit from “White Walls;” and of course those crazy fur coats from “Thrift Shop” – trike/scooter included. I particularly enjoyed the wall map indicating all of the locations used in Macklemore’s videos (The Ice Caves? ROCK ON!).
I was personally struck again, as I entered a room in which Kanye West’s “Runaway” video was playing and taking up an entire wall. It is an incredibly lovely film made even lovelier when amplified in size. . . . I think most people who have viewed “Runaway” did so via Youtube and didn’t think twice about it. There is a huge list of music videos being played on large screens throughout the gallery space. I love how it elevates and highlights this art form. Of course, for every meticulous White Stripes video, there are scads of videos featuring Hall and Oates dancing awkwardly. I found myself at the end of our tour, wearing a thrift-smelling fur coat and posing hammishly against a wall with a scene from “Thrift Shop” painted on it. Perrrfect.
Spectacle: The Music Video opens on Saturday, May 16 at 7:00 p.m., with a spectacular opening night party entitled Vivid. Guests will be able to view the exhibit, experience a retrospective presentation of OK Go’s wild and crazy videos (given by Damian Kulash from the band), participate in an ’80s karaoke lounge, view monster-sized videos on the Sky Church screen, and create a Macklemore fanvid together. Costumes are encouraged! Tickets can be purchased online at EMPmuseum.org.