For the last 10 years or so we’ve seen the gradual decline of the music video. I’m not even sure if MTV plays music videos anymore but I’d guess the answer is probably “rarely.” But perhaps we’re not seeing the end of music videos, perhaps they’re just evolving? Yesterday saw the release of two of these evolutionary ideas – a 45 minute psychedelic video for MGMT’s new album Optimizer and an interactive music video for Arcade Fire’s new song “Reflektor.”
In collaboration with Rdio, MGMT released a unique, sneak peek listening/viewing experience for the bands newest album, Optimizer. The albums ten tracks each get custom (insane) videos thanks to artists Andrew Benson, Alejandro Crawford, Emilio Gomariz, Geoffrey Lillemon, and Chris Timms.
“MGMT’s psyche-pop space-rock has always hinted at alien, other-wordly origins; a rich territory for the possibilities of CGI and virtual worlds. Drawing on the unnatural vibrant colours and strange and mysterious landscapes of alien worlds, each of the artists who contributed to the optimizer project presents their unique virtual illumination of MGMT’s alien origin, produced and arranged by MGMT’s live show video instrumentalist Alejandro Crawford.”
The experiment is certainly interesting as it’s only available to subscribers of Rdio, as well as the album not coming out until next week, so you’re truly getting a preview. I’m personally not a huge fan of MGMT but this definitely got me to watch/listen an album that I probably would have skipped over. It’s also not quite a traditional music video, it’s a pretty abstract execution, but then again we’re dealing with a different medium – Internet vs. Television. There’s an even a feature where you can see the other Rdio members who are watching the video at the same time, so that’s pretty neat.
Upping the bar further is the interactive music video for Arcade Fire’s new single “Refloktor.” If you go to Just A Reflektor you’ll experience a music video directed by Vincent Morriset and brought to life by digital media artist Aaron Koblin. The video utilizes both your smart phone and your cameras computer (or you can just use your mouse) which allows you to control the video in remarkable ways. It’s hard to explain in words, you really just need to experience it for yourself.
What these artists are doing is creating video experiences that engage you for longer periods, and even more powerful, make you an active participant in the video itself. You can look back 20 years ago and see how directors like David Fincher, Spike Jonze, and Michel Gondry turned the music video medium into a successful vehicle for their future projects. Perhaps that’s what we’re seeing now at a smaller scale, the very beginnings of a new medium?