Muzak Rock & Minimalism

Muzak Rock & Minimalism - 13 minutes, stereo © 1983

Background

Muzak Rock & Minimalism is compilation of shorts for the first 3 → ↑ → EPs which were released on a compilation LP on Present records.

Credits

Direction & editing - Philip Brophy
Camera - Philip Brophy, Maria Kozic & ?
Performers - Philip Brophy, Maria Kozic, Ralph Traviato, Dale Putting, Gerard Hayes

Muzak - video still © 1983

1984

FUTURFALL - Bondi Pavilion Theatre, Sydney
Praxis, Freemantle
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

1983

STATE OF THE ART - Metro Television, Sydney
Glasshouse Theatre, Melbourne
Time Based Arts, Amsterdam

Muzak - video stills © 1983

Overview

Venitian Rendezvous

The first video ("Sportello") is shot in mimicry of the most banal ways in which television shows or advertisements at the time would shoot 'the city'. Back in 1983, Melbourne felt and looked crappy (it still does, but now on a grander scale). Most of the footage is shot around St.Kilda Rd.: the dumb 'arts tower', the corny 50s water fountain, the 'brand new' Olympic Swimming Centre. To shoot like this, one had to get into the mind set of a TV technician assigned to capture 'Melbourne at night'.

While the first video is about the banality of exterior settings, the second ("Canzona Di Una Notta") is all about interior spaces. Shot at the house where famous Melbourne Pop and Conceptual artist Robert Rooney lived with his mother, the video depicts Philip and Maria living in a blissful domestic uptopia. They clean and cook, read and relax, all while listening to light Muzak on their Walkman. They perform as if trying to become for real the Letraset 'people images' that architects and interior designers use to illustrate their gaudy worlds. The reflexive irony is that Robert's house was super-cool because it was frozen in an earlier 50s era. And its walls were covered with his amazing Pop paintings.

Rock - video stills © 1983

Nice Noise

The septic irony continues with the two shorts for NICE NOISE. The first ("Rock Song") follows the bare structuralist design of the music track: a tense riff cycles until it suddenly shifts up a semi-tone. BAM - the video suddenly goes from fixed-tripod shot to wild hand-held camera. Also, the performs ape the theatrics of rock performers - always nodding, heaving, bopping and banging. Water was sprayed on everyone's faces; all were directed to grimace as if the music really meant something to them. It smells like a mouldy episode of Countdown - which, of course, we detested.

The second video ("Doing Very Little") continues this televisual vein of 'representing real rock music' - this time by focusing on the manual mechanics of the music's production. Hands are cropped, then refilmed from monitors repeatedly, as if the viewer is getting closer to the heart of 'the real' of the music. We're going nowhere but into the pixels of the TV screen.

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The final video for the track "Only Quantity Counts" textually lip-synchs the Minimalism set's creed: to be music frozen in close-up. A series of blurred snapshots of a synthesizer keyboard are mechanically sequenced in synch with each repeated refrain of the track. No motion. Nothing happens.

Rock - video stills © 1983

Technical

Venitian Rendezvous

Shot on Lo-Band U-Matic video.

Nice Noise

Shot on Super 8 and transferred to video.

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Shot as a sequence of 35mm slides and transferred to video.

Minimalism - video stills © 1983