Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Every Empire Falls

What do these two images have in common?


You may not recognize either one, but the top image is from the early 90s powerhouse rock band, Queensryche who's hit album, entitled Empire, dominated the modern rock charts for months. You remember, Silent Lucidity..."hush now don't you cry, wipe away the tear drops from your eye......" I could sing you the song, but I don’t have an audio blog...yet.

The other image is from a video installation called Funk Staden, which is part of the recent show at the Frye Art Museum also entitled Empire.

The reason that it is called "Empire" is the Frye is also showing Napoleon on the Nile, which is a very interesting historical show about Napoleon's failed attempt at invading Egypt with emphasis on the cataloging of Egyptian culture that happened along the way. An immense amount of knowledge was gathered and put into a volume called "Le Descripton de L'Egypt" or something like that. The images created by artists on that journey spawned a huge Orientalism movement in France and Western Europe. Any who...I'm getting off track.

That show, Napoleon on the Nile, though, is essential the reason that if you travel to the back of the museum you will encounter another "Empire". Empire is a collection of 5 different video installations. They have about as little to do with each other as they do with Queensryche’s Empire.

The show overlaps itself. Sound conflicts with other sound, Installations are not given enough time to breath. With the exception of 2 pieces, there is little that makes one think of Empires, whether it be Napoleon's or Queensryche’s. One of those is an oddly enjoyable real-time video recording of a wasp nest. 90 days worth. The other is the one pictured above, Funk Staden, which does deal with interesting ideas, although it turns them into flash and entertainment, with heavy-handed symbolism. Looks like the kind of video art that was really fun and interesting for the artists to make, but when the viewer experiences the work, they have a completely different experience.

Which, granted, the artists admitted to enjoying when I saw their lecture. They mentioned the "ripple effect". As an artist you do something, make or create something...then there is the ripple of the different ways it goes out into the world.

That's a lazy and convenient way to avoid having to answer whether-or-not your work has an intended viewer response. And if so, if it was successful in achieving that response. That is does the work do what you want it to do?
One thing Funk Staden does do is entertains. It is a massive, excellent installation.

Any who, this is a long, rambling "review" of the show Empire and I do apologize. I hope you can get some interesting info in here.

There are 2 pieces i the show that are not remotely art works. They are simply short documentaries and should be treated as such. Both are fascinating and should you come to the Frye before Jan 4th, make sure and check those out. A good critic would give you the titles and info here, but I suck so you will have to visit the website yourself.

Empire 2.5 Molos (lousy show with some interesting works in it)
Napoleon on the Nile 3.5 Molos
Queensryche’s Empire 4.5 Molos if I could travel back to 1990 and read my 13 year-old-mind. 1.5 if forced to listen to it today.

The Frat Boys never rest

Do not be deceived by the juvenile album cover art picture above, go out and buy this album by Restiform Bodies called TV Loves You Back. It's remarkable. Especially if you like weirdo experimental hip hop. I saw RB play several weeks ago when they opened up for that band Why at the Vera Project and I wasn't blown away at the time. However, I think that had more to do with the distraction of this random group of like 7 ex-frat boy-looking douche bags who were ridiculously dancing and virtually ignoring the music. Seemed like one of them had scored some E or something, I don't know. I mean this was the Vera Project. Not a drop of alcohol in the place. Just a bunch of enthusiastic kids there to see Why and these goons kind of ruining it for everyone. It was rather odd. I realise this has nothing to do with band's music which I'm supposed to be reviewing at this moment. Sorry about that.

It was just the thing I really took away from that show. That and the lead's spasmodic dancing. In any case, I finally picked up a copy of their album and it's a multi-layered treat! Definitely not for the casual hip hop fan, but give a shot and you will not be disappointed. Great music to drive to. 4 Molos