The Art of Pop Video, FACT Liverpool

A pop song isn’t quite complete without a short video that can be pasted all over fan’s facebook walls and will pick up thousands of “likes” on YouTube. In celebration of these miniature works of art, FACT, Liverpool are launching their newest exhibition: The Art of Pop Video. Opening on 14 March, the showcase recalls some of the most memorable moments in modern music as it presents 80 years of film clips created to promote classic and contemporary pop songs.

Beginning with Fred Astaire’s timeless choreography in the film Top Hat, the show moves on generations to feature the innovative viral short films of Ok Go and a selection of more than 100 music videos. Providing an insight into experimental approaches to pop video while also reclaiming it as an artistic medium, the exhibition will 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.

There will also be classic promos from MTV’s heyday, such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. But the genre is explored in a more conceptual way, spanning the history of music videos and looking at the future for the format in an age which is digital, online and immediately accessible.

Thematically displayed the exhibition collates a variety of videos based on ideas. The History of Pop Video looks back to the origins of the music video whereas Abstractions takes a look at experimental works like Radiohead’s House of Cards. The Conquest of Film will include pop videos made by established film directors, such as Madonna’s Bad Girl, directed by David Fincher, and U2’s Stay (Faraway So Close), from Wim Wenders, and The Conquest of the Arts looks at videos made by bands with visual arts backgrounds, and will include New Order’s Blue Monday and Do You Want To by Franz Ferdinand. Other sections include, The Dancing of Politics, Amateur, Dance, The Wilderness Downtown and Music Video in the Arts.

There will also be a section dedicated to Liverpool, including The Beatles, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, OMD, Ladytron and more. And in order to highlight the shift towards more lo-fi methods of filmmaking, the exhibition will also include a specially commissioned clip – a new video from acclaimed Liverpool band Outfit, who will be performing at the opening on 14 March.

On top of the stunning exhibition there will be an exciting public programme of film screenings, in collaboration with Tate Liverpool’s Glam! The Performance of Style exhibition, which will include a double bill of John Waters’s controversial Pink Flamingos and James Bidgood’s Pink Narcissus; and the Beastie Boys concert Awesome; I… Shot That!, which was filmed on camcorder by fans in the crowd.

The Art of Pop Video, 14 March – 26 May, FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool, L14DQ

All images courtesy of FACT, Liverpool
1. Pet Shop Boys – GoWest ©EMI.
2. Bjork-It’s Oh So Quiet ©Universal.