Art of the Pop Video

Thriller of a show at FACT

Written by  The Confidentials | Follow @ | Thursday, 14 March 2013 16:51

PROBABLY the only people who mourned the rise and rise of the pop video were TV dance troupes like Pan's People and Legs and Co – or, come to think of it, the blokes who watched them. 

For back in the 1970s, when chart bands had better stuff to do than turn up for Top of the Pops, kids had to make do with scantily clad rock-chicks prancing and cavorting across Thursday night TV screens. Cut to on Camera 2 and Jimmy Savile drooling down of the side of his robusto. 

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Then, perhaps for practical reasons, Queen brought out a video to their new tune, Bohemian Rhapsody (it would have been Dullsville if they'd simply stood up and performed it on a stage). With that, our modern understanding of the pop video was born and the writing, for Flick Colby, was on a P45. 

But plenty more came before 1976 and now some of the most memorable moments in modern music are on show as part of FACT’s new exhibition. 

The Art of Pop Video takes in nearly 80 years of film clips created to promote classic and cutting edge pop songs.

 From Fred Astaire’s timeless choreography in the film Top Hat to the energetic and innovative viral short films of OK Go, a selection of more than 100 music videos are on display in FACT’s galleries.

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 The exhibition looks look at the evolution of the media over the decades – featuring everything from big-budget promos by Hollywood directors to examples of crowd-sourced, ‘DIY’ videos. 

Expect classic promos from the heyday of MTV, such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer and that Bohemian Rhapsody vid. Then there are avantgarde artistic works such as the oldest piece in the exhibition, Man Ray’s 1926 film Emak Bakia, which we won't show here because it won't do anything to make you want to go. 

Also expect much chin scratching: the show explores the genre in more conceptual way – mapping the history of music videos and looking at the future for the format in an age which is digital, online, immediate and accessible. 

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To highlight the shift towards more “lo-fi” methods of filmmaking, The Art of Pop Video also includes a clip made especially for the exhibition – a new video from Liverpool band Outfit, which will be made by the winner of an open call competition from FACT and Liverpool Sound City.

FACT Director Mike Stubbs said: “The Art of Pop Video is an exhibition that really will have something for everyone to enjoy. As well as plenty of classic videos we know and love, visitors are bound to discover some long-lost gems and be able to explore how this fascinating art form has evolved, from the 1920s to the present day.”

*Art of The Pop Video, FACT, Wood Street, Liverpool 1, until May 26.