Spectacle: The Music Video


Spectacle: The Music Video is the first museum exhibition to celebrate the art and history of the music video. This groundbreaking exhibition, curated by Jonathan Wells and Meg Grey Wells of Flux (and RES Magazine fame), explores music video as an important and influential art form in contemporary culture.

The exhibit is a treat for any animator, filmmaker, music lover, or pop culture geek. There’s Michel Gondry’s White Stripes legos, the original drawings from A-ha’s Take On Me, This Too Shall Pass OK GO jump suits, Gangnam Style sans music, and over 300 videos to enjoy on loop. The beautiful exhibit design is by Logan.

After its inaugural run at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati last year, it has landed in New York and will be on view for one more week at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, check out their hours here.

Here’s hoping Spectacle can tour many more cities and this amazing collection of videos will find a home online.


The music video is one of our favorite mediums at Motionographer. What sets it apart from tv, feature films, musicals, or short films? One significant characteristic is the high percentage of writer-directors. A music video director often writes the treatment himself and leaves a strong, tangible mark on the final product. If film is a symphony, and a television episode is a chamber piece, then a music video is a solo.

The second notable characteristic is the “music” in “music video”. A music video inherently has a relationship with another piece of art and another artist. Sometimes this means you’re getting a hybrid idea that’s the result of a collaboration between the director and the musician. Other times the director is solely responsible for the concept, but the song itself provides a jumping off point. As opposed to short film, where you start with a blank page, a music video starts with a running time, a mood, and lyrics as constraints from which creativity and innovation occur.


Michael Patterson, who created the iconic animation of A-ha’s Take On Me music video shared the following thoughts with us:

Music videos allow artists their individual voices. In the film and entertainment industry, it’s one of the few places where there’s a need for true invention without too much interference. In my experience, music companies and music artists would hope for something new and inspiring when commissioning a video. That expectation was a fantastic motivator for us as directors.

When animating “Take On Me”, we were asked to bring our unique talents to the project. It was a chance for our careers to catch fire and get work out to millions of people. Whether it’s a video, an installation or an interactive experience. People love experiencing original work and a unique vision. This is why this medium will keep growing and developing.