Looking At Music 3.0 @ MoMA through June 6


Touching on topics like hip hop, graffiti, MTV and Riot Grrrls, MoMA’s third installment of the series entitled Looking at Music 3.0, discusses New York’s music scene during the 1980’s and 90’s.

Featuring many interactive elements, this exhibit allows museum goers to listen to samplings from the highly experimental Brian Eno and David Byrne.  Physical samples of Christian Marclay’s vinyl records are also on display, which show how he actually sliced several records apart, then glued mixed pieces back together.  Listening to a sample of this, you hear a second or two of new wave, then a few seconds of hip hop, then pop, and so on.

Keith Haring’s work also makes a prominent appearance in this exhibit as well.  Grace Jones’ video for “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You),” directed by Haring, is featured in a mix of early music videos that are played on a huge screen in the middle of the room.  Haring’s “Ignorance = Fear/Silence = Death” print is displayed as well.

Another section features early hip hop music, videos and album covers from Wu Tang, Public Enemy, Jay-Z, Run DMC and Afrika Bambaataa.  Third wave feminist and riot grrrl bands such as Le Tigre and Bikini Kill, as well as samples of feminist fanzines are also displayed.

The most interesting and bizarre piece in the exhibit though, was Perry Holberman’s “Faraday’s Ghost” (2000).  This interactive piece features a television in which cartoon images of small kitchen appliances float across the black screen.  Below the screen is a collage of small cutouts of those same appliances, but with barcodes on them.  Viewers are able to use handheld scanners to scan the barcodes, which then makes the appliance on the television screen make its proper noise (for example, a blender will make it’s grinding, blending noise).  Though its connection to the rest of the exhibit is a bit uncertain, it’s still fun and one of the most original things I’ve seen in a while.

This exhibit, which runs now through June 6th, provides a critical look into a variety of New York subcultures that haven’t previously received much attention.  Though I felt each of the subtopics covered in the exhibit were far too brief, it was still interesting, and very much worth attending.

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